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Full text of "The two hunters;"

THE 



TWO HUN^TERS 



OB, 



*S 3129 
.V58 T8 
L865 
'opy 1 



:he CAWOiisr oamp. 



A ROMANCE OF THE SANTA Fig TRAIL. 



C{ 






BY MRS. M. V. VICTOR, 

AUTHOB OF " JO DAYIESS' CLIENT," " HAUM OUIKEA," " GOLD HXJNTKB8," ^O. 



^^ 



BEADLE AND COMPANY, PUBLISHERS, 

118 WILLIAM STREET. 



Entered according to Act of Congress, Jn the year 1865, by 

BEADLE AND COMPANY, 

In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for tho 

Southern District of New York. 

(No. 81.) 






the" two hunters. 



CHAPTER I. 

THE RED mVER BIVOUAC 



A PARTY of three was gathered about the fire waiting for 
supper. Things looked comfortable, generally, though not 
according to the usual order; .the fire-place, for instance, 
being a hole scooped in the sand, the table a cleared spot of 
ground, and the apartment consisting of a good-sized prairie, 
with the sky for a ceiling. The night was dark, though full 
of stars ; a Jight wind fioated by, at intervals, just wavering 
the flames of the dry cottonwood, and bringing them a little 
too near the fet breast of the wild-turkey browning on its 
stake. With a soft gurgle and rush, a broad creek, about tea 
paces to the east, swept by on its way to the Red river, two 
miles' to the north. Against the starry sky were defined the 
outlines of the Wachita mountains rising darkly in the western 
horizon. 

Of the three who awaited supper, the first was a young 
man of about twenty-four, with dark hair and beard, sun- 
browed complexion, and an eye that flashed back the fire-light 
like an eagle's. The second was a tall, bony, light-hau-ed 
person, above thirty, and a native of Connecticut. The third 
member of the party was a dog. It will be saying a good 
deal for him to mention, that his eye was as keen as his 
master's, and his nose as inquisitive as the New Englauder's. 

By his side lay a little pile of " traps," consisting of the 
knapsacks and extra accouterments, while the rifles" of the 
hunters lay each ready to the hand of its owner. 

" Guess what I'm a calculating," proposed the older of the 
two, with his twinkling blue eye fixed upon the roasting 
turkey. 



iO THE TWO HUNTERS. 

" The distance of the nearest Comanches, perhaps.^" 
"No — bother the Injuns, I warn't thinkin' of them this 
time. I'm calculating how long that fowl's been a-cookin'." 
" About three-quarters of an hour, I suppose." 
" Wrong, ag'in, my friend. Three-quarters of an hour's 
common time, I'm calculating by sensations, and not by 
minutes or seconds. When a man hasn't eaten any thing but 
a dry biscuit at five in the mornin', and has trudged a matter 
of twenty or thuty miles, and it's late in the evenin', and he's 
tired and hungry, and the drippin's keep falling on the coals, 
and makin' such a savory smell, I can't measure time by the 
clock — even if I had one ; and, speakin' of clocks, reminds 
me that I sold my last lot out for ninety-five cents apiece, and 
then I quit the business. Fact is, people were supplied, and I 
never like to be in a business that's overdone, — and that's one 
reason I like huntin' on the' Red river. 'Tain't crowded here, 
jest yet. Wal, then, according to the time-piece in my 
stomach, (which is an entirely sensational bit of machinery 
like the magnetic telegraph,) that bird's been thirty-four hours 
and sixty seconds comin' to the stage of 'done brown' — 
where it has this minute arriv', or my name ain't Amos." 

" Dick agrees with you," said the young man, with a smile, 
which passed with the brightness and vividness of lightning 
over his face, as the dog turned his gaze from the turkey to 
his master, with a look which asked why the fowl was not 
attended to. 

" He beats a French cook all to pieces, that dog does. I'd 
trust him to cook Thanksgivin' dinner for me, if he only had 
hands. Hands is all that's lackin' to make a first-class human 
out of him, though, as for that matter, his paws are more 
handy than most people's. Did you ever reckon whether or 
not dogs have souls f^ continued the speaker, lifting the 
turkey -from the extemporized spit, and depositing it on a tin- 
plate which the other had taken from the knapsack. " I 
lectu3M3d on that subject once, all through Connecticut. Made 
quite a sensation, I tell you ! Some of the ministers was 
down on me like leeches on a dropsy subject. They said — 
have you got the pepper 'n salt there, Louis ? — I was going 
against revelation, but I jist invited the people to pay the 
quai'ters, listen to facts, and judge for themselves. If I'd had 



ON THE BORDEB. 



\ 



\ <^- 



Dick there, to take along, and set off my lectures with ^,. 

of his tricks, I'd made my everlastin' fortmie, sure as my. 

name ain't Moses." 

" I don't know about common dogs," said the young man, 
in his quiet wa}^ " but, I know Dick'^ got a soul, if I have. 
There, sir, you shall have your supper at the same time with 
your master." 

The two men were now busy, making use of the long 
knives which they drew from tlieir belts to cut slices from 
the fowl, which they ate without the ceremony of forks or 
plates. Dick got all the bones, and many a savory bit 
besides. A long day's tramp in the open air was the sauce 
which gave keenest reUsh to the repast, yet the hackneyed 
appetite of a city gourmand would have been tickled by the 
flavor of the delicious fowl — young, tender, roasted before 
hot coals, stuffed with bread, salt, pepper, bits of salt pork, 
and pecan-nuts, and possessing all the peculiar aroma of the 
wild bird. The cold water of the creek, which had nothing 
of the sulphurous taste peculiar to the streams of the Wa- 
chita country, served for drink, and a couple of large leaves 
twisted into cups, were full of berries that had been gathered 
from the surrounding grass. 

** How do you like the stuffing, Loiiis ?" 

"Very much. Where did you learn to stuff fowls in 
this style?" 

" B'longed to the ornithological department of a museum 
once. Kept a hotel, too, down to the sea-shore. I say, Louis, 
them Comanches was on the war-path whose trail we crossed 
this afternoon. They've been kicking up a quarrel with the 
Kioways, I reckon." 

" What makes you thmk they were on the war-path, 
Buell ?" 

" Think ? I don't think — I know. You're a right smart 
hunter, Louis, for a feller that's only been out of civilization 
for a matter of six months or a year — but you've got lots 
to learn yet." 

" I'm under an excellent teacher," said the young man, good 
humoredly. 

" That's so ! There's only one chap on these plains that 
I'll knuckle in to, and that's John Bushman, and he's an 



y 



j^Q THE TWO HUNTEKS. 

Injun. Of course he is a leetle more of an Injun than I am, 
but, not much — and there's one thing I am that he ain't, 
and that's a Yankee. So I'm a leetle more'n even with him ; 
though I'm free to say he's a good guide, and a hunter that I 
have a respect for. "^hey was Comanches, I could tell by the 
holes which they dug for their fires ; they alius make them 
fifteen inches across. They was a war or a huntin' party, 
because they didn't have their tent-poles along. Now, I dug 
this hole for our fire in exact imitation of theirs ; bekase, you 
see, if they should happen along here, after we've left, they 
won't know white folks are around. Ef you'd only step 
straight, Louis, and not turn your toes out so, like a civilized 
human, and foller my directions ginerally as to sleepin' and 
walkin', and so on, they wouldn't know our tracks from their 
own." 

'* Do you think they'd quarrel with us, if they met us ?" 
" Wal, mebbe they would, and mebbe they wouldn't — 
'twould be accordin' to the humor. If any rascally whito 
trader should have been cheatin' them lately, or silly hunter 
been trippin' 'em, they'll be ugly enough. I never cheat an 
Injun, if I can help it — and that's the reason I don't want to 
trade with 'em ; for, you see, when I trade, I like to make a 
good bargain. It goes ag'in' my conscience to trade quite even 
— but as I say, I don't like to cheat an Injun, for fear he'll 
come up with me some day. That's what put me out of con- 
ceit of the fur business. I was two winters up among the 
Sioux, buying furs, but, we didn't hitch very even, bekase 
they were all-fired sharp, and of course I hed to be a leetle 
sharper, and they got mad, and I quit business with 'em. I 
say, Louis, I reckon we've been a little risky to let our fire 
blaze up so. We'd better cover it down, so's 'twon't show, 
but just smolder away enough to keep our feet warm while 
we're iisleep. There's one thing we've got to do, soon ; and 
that's to get a couple of horses from somewhere. I don't like 
this^bein' on foot in case of a race with the Comanches. 
They owe us two ; for I make no doubt 'twas them stole ours 
the other night. You think they wandered away, but I don't." 
'* I think so, because I don't believe Dick would have per- 
mitted any living creature, no matter if his feet were shod 
with velvet, to creep up and drive them off — would you, Dick ?" 



AN IMPUDENT QUESTION. 



\ 



Dick looked up in his master's face as if lie resented everi 
the question ; then turned, with the countenance of injured 
innocence to the other party, and gave a short bark of re- 
proach. 

" You may lay me in the lie if you want to, Dick ; but I 
tell you, you overslept yourself for once — the Comanches 
stole them horses." 

The dog said no more, whatever he may have thought, for 
his powers of speech were not equal to an argument with 
Amos Buell ; he returned to the bone from which his atten- 
tion had been diverted, while the two travelers, with the 
cravings of appetite fully satisfied, leaned on their elbows, and 
stretched their feet to the fire. 

The eyes of the younger were fixed on the stars with a lost 
and dreamy expression, which made his companion very 
uneasy. Silence was hateful to the Yankee, and a secret was 
a thing not to be kept in his company. After a few moments 
deep observation of his companion, who had apparently for- 
gotten his existence in some dream of the past or. future, he 
broke forth : 
. " I say, Louis, you've got suthin' on your mind." 

" "W ell ?" queried the other, slowly withdrawing his gaze 
from the brilliant heavens, and fixing it on the speaker. 

*' I'd like to know what 'tis, if you've no objections. "When 
those spells of thinking come over you, you're quite a differ- 
ent person from what you are when on the hunt, or most 
other occasions. I'll bet you the two horses we're goin' to 
find in a day or two, that you've been in some sort of a scrape 
some time, and have run away from yer friends. Oh, you 
needn't git mad,'Louis ; you and me is too good friends to 
take offense easy, and I don't mean to insinuate it's been any 
thing bad on your part. Mebbe it's a gal been playin' the 
deuce with you, eh ?" — and the twinkling eyes shot a rapid 
glance into the handsome face, which had suddenly put on 
a moody expression, rendered still more striking by the fitful 
play of the expiring firelight. 

" You presume too much on our friendship," was his cold 
remark. 

" Shouldn't wonder," was the reply, with characteristio 
sangfroid. '* It's one o' my failings — askin' questions is. 



14 THE TWO HUNTERS. 

But if we didn't inquire, we wouldn't know any thing. I 
never intend to get lost on account of backwardness in asking 
the road. Besides, I have told you my history, without bash- 
fulness, and I'd like you to return the compliment. You're 
a smart chap, of good family, and have got an eddication 
quite different from our out-west hunters. I don't feel a bit 
sleepy yet, and if you've a mind to gratify my curiosity, by 
tellin' me exactly w^hat brought you out to the Red river 
country, I'd listen with as much pleasure as the folks used 
to, to me when I went about lecturing." 

" Supposing I'd say I came for my health "- — and with this 
brief rejoinder, the young man adjusted his kit in such a way 
as to serve for a pillow, gave a word of warning to his dog 
to keep strict watch, and with his rifle in reach of his hand, 
closed his eyes, affecting to be asleep. As there was no more 
" talk " to be got out of him that evening, Buell concluded to 
follow his example, and having covered down the bed of 
coals, he, too, stretched himself out, and was soon sunk in 
such slumber as is only enjoyed in the open air, and when won 
by healthy fatigue. 



CHAPTER II. 

" WILL YOU WALK INTO MY PARLOR ?" SAID THE SPIDER, ETa 

Although the young hunter was so reticent, when hia 
companion referred to his paBt history, it is not incumbent on 
us to be the same. A few years prior to the opening scene, 
Louis Grason was a great favorite in certain good circles of 
New" York society. He was an only son — good-looking, and 
had qualities of head and heart which promised to make more 
thifti an ordinary man of him. He could be grar^efuUy devoted 
to the young ladies, and converse sensibly with the old gentle- 
men ; he was cheerful, intelligent, ambitious, with just enough 
fire of temper, and ardor of purpose, to give him a manner 
of his own. Everybody liked him. It may be that even 
Flora McFlimsey would have married him, if he had offered 
himself to her ; for, although his family wa8 but moderately 



THE COUSINS. 



V 

wealthy — " ridiculously rich," according to the later standard 
of shoddy and petroleum — it was an old family, whose tradi- 
tions reached back to the earliest Knickerbockers. 

The old house was quietly massive, as was the old plate, 
and the old furniture ; and the old pictures grew darker, year 
by year, in their solid frames. There were solid old books, 
too, in the library ; and Louis' father was a solid old gentle- 
man, and his mother as true a lady as the ring of the old tea- 
pot was true silver; so that, altogether, the young man's 
associations were of the best, and he did credit to them, as 
most sons of svch parents do. 

When Louis was about twenty-two, and before his heart 
had bowed at any of the fair shrines erected in the spacious 
•parlors of his New York acquaintances, his father sent him 
on business, one winter, to St. Louis. The business was not 
arduous, being simply the collection of some debts ; and there 
were relatives in that charmingly hospitable city who wel- 
comed the young man warmly, and would not permit him to 
return before he had spent the greater part of the gay season 
with them. 

He was not hard to persuade, for he was 'fascinated by the 
mingled southern and western grace and cordiality of the 
society into which he was introduced. It was pleasant to 
feel himself a favorite ; while nothing could be more delight- 
ful, at least for a time, than the house of the uncle with whom 
he made his home. The style of living Was gay and gene- 
rous ; and two pretty and brilliant daughters made constant 
sunshine. The feeling of admiration and affection was mutual 
'Taetween the cousins, but it wiP a cousinly sentiment, which 
went no further. The girls were proud of Louis, and found 
him conveniently disposable for concerts, theaters and balls ; 
and he did not fret at the duty of attending upon two such 
well-dressed and spirited young ladies. 

So the winter fled ; and it was at one of the last and largest 
of the private balls that Louis Grason finally met his fate. 
The ball- was given by a rich widow of St. Louis, in honor of 
the arrival at her house of a niece from New Orleans, who 
had come up the river to stay a few weeks with her. None 
of the Grasons had met her until the evening of the party ; 
for, when the ladies called, the aunt and her guest had chanced 



^ 



16 THE TWO HUNTERS. 

to be out. All were surprised, and, in a manner, overpowered 
by the beauty of Miss Mora. But the full force of her charms 
fell upon the heart of the young Northerner, which had slept 
in his breast like a ripe red rose-bud waiting for the first sun- 
ray of love to burst it into full flower. Doubtless, the contrast 
in her style of dress, movement and features, to the fairer and 
more reserved loveliness to which he had been accustomed, 
enhanced the effect. Yet, that he was not alone in his admi- 
ration, was proven by the subdued murmur which followed 
wherever she moved — the charmed attention which huUg upon 
all she did or said. The rumor which filled the rooms, that 
she was heiress to immense wealth, deepened the impression 
made by her beauty upon all save Louis, who was too sud- 
denly filled with her youth and loveliness to be capable of the 
grosser sensations of lucre and pride of circumstance. 

Miss Mora looked small as she stood beside her aunt, who 
was a portly woman. Her form was slender, exquisitely 
molded ; her hair pui-ple-black ; her complexion dark, smooth 
and fine ; her eyes black and changeful. Even the women 
felt an inclination to touch with their finger-tips the lovely 
shoulders, and crimson-veined cheeks, to find if they were 
as velvet-soft as they appeared, so rich and fine was the tex- 
ture of the clear skin. ^ She was so youthful that her smile 
was that of a child — innocent and irrepressible — flashing 
sweetly over her face, when any trifle pleased her ; but her 
eyes had the deeper light of womanhood. "What eyes were 
those, sleeping in the shadow of their black lashes, ready, any 
instant, to flash out into dangerous brightness ! 

Her dress was of richer lanterial and color than would have 
been worn by a northern maiden of the same age, but it har- 
monized with her beauty. She wore something crystalline 
and_ floating over a crimson silk, and the flash of rubies was 
perceptible in her hair and drapery, whenever she stirred. 
Trails of crimson flowers contrasted vividly with her black 
braids, and lay against the softness of her neck. The same 
blossoms caught up the silver sheen of gauze over the heavy 
skirt, which gave an efiect like the fire of opals glimmering 
through their milkiness. 

But all this description does not and can not give an idea 
of Mariquita Moi-a ; for her smile, the tone of her voice, the 



MISS MORA. 

flash of her eye, are indescribable — and these made a great 
part of her charm. Ten minutes in her society effected a 
marvelous change in- the young New-Yorker. He, hitherto, 
had the credit of possessing more pride than passion. His 
cousins smiled as they observed him, and when, later in the 
evening, they playfully rallied him on his too-evident admira- 
tion, he did not seek to deny the impeachment, but answered 
them with a half-angry earnestness which silenced them. All 
through the crowded and brilliant night he hovered about the 
star of the occasion, a most devoted moth. He was rewarded 
and sent home deliriously happy, by a look and smile from 
Miss Mora, which told him that she had singled hun out for, 
at least, that evening, as deserving special liking. 

The opportunity given him, during the complimentary call 
of the succeeding day, for improving the acquaintance, was 
not neglected. The aunt cordially pressed him to visit them 
without ceremony, during the brief visit of her niece, whom 
she benevolently desired should enjoy herself, and not pine 
for her brilliant southern home. 

Louis knew too much of the world not to perfectly under- 
stand that the aunt wished to assure him that he was an eli- 
gible partly who might feel himself at liberty to be devoted, if 
he was inclined ; but for this he only felt grateful. How was 
it possible she could think any one worthy to approach that 
incomparable niece ? Had he ever suspected her of deliberate 
match'making, he would not have been the less flattered, nor 
have laid any of the charge to the thought of the young lady 
— she, who was too young and too guileless to have any 
comprehension of her aunt's motives — any feelings which 
were not those of an innocent child, or an angel ! So he 
expressed his pleasure at being permitted to attempt to amuse 
Miss Mora — his hope that home-sickness would not cause her 
to abridge her visit, etc., and immediately began a series of 
daily calls and attentions. 

In the mean time, a feeling of uneasiness crept into the 
family of his relatives. For the first time, they wanted the 
dear boy safely at home, and regretted that they had urged 
his stay with them. Curious stories began to float about, 
intangibly, in the atmosphere. They could scarcely be traced, 
but their power was felt, and an air of painful mystery began 



■■jfi..\ 



18 THE TWO HUNTERS. 

to wrap Miss Mora, " felt, not seen." The warmth of her 
first welcome grew colder among the visitors at her aunt's 

house. 

It was rumored that her mother was not the " right kind 
of a woman," It was asserted that Madame Mora was a 
Spanish woman, who, in her youth, had been extremely beau- 
tiful — as beautiful as her daughter ; that she had come to New 
Orleans, almost fabulously wealthy, after the death of a first 
husband in Spain, and had married an amiable Creole gentle- 
man, whom she had soon worried into the grave — if, indeed, 
she had not sent him there by still more dubious means ; that 
her house — which the best people of New Orleans avoided — 
was a perfect Spanish Inquisition, whose victims were her 
colored people ; that she had rooms and instruments of tor- 
ture, where her slaves were " punished " — not for their faults, 
but at the instigation of her caprice — even unto death ; that, 
so great was the terror in which her servants held her, they 
dared not complain to the authorities, who would be slow, to 
espouse their cause against that of the rich Madame, while, 
in the mean time, the slightest sign of revolt on their part 
would be followed by such tortures as awed the boldest into 
abject silence. It was vaguely whispered that the bones of 
more than one poor slave rested from suffering in those lovely 
gardens, the perfumes of whose rare flowers floated over all 
that part of the city ; and that her extensive cellars held more 
than one skeleton.* 

Out of such a home as this she had sent her daughter — 
knowing that her chances for marriage in New Orleans were 
so very small — to this northern relative, in the expectation 
that her beauty and wealth would speedily win her a husband, 
before any rumor of her parentage should obscure her pros- 
pects. 

These were some of the dark and chilly shadows which 
b(4gan to gather about the beautiful stranger. People thronged 

* Any dweller in New Orleans, during the years 1850-54, will recosmize 
in this character that of a woman of wealth, whose enormity of cruelty to 
her slaves rendered her so odious, even to that community of slave-traders, 
as to excite public horror at her acts. She was not punished, however, for 
her numberless murders of servants in the awful dungeons of her city 
residence, but was permitted to quietly leave the country. With a number 
of her slaves, she went to Cuba, where the monster may yet be living— an 
example of the right of every ovnaer to " whip his own niggers." 



RUMOKS. 



v^ 



the house of the aunt, but it was to feed their savage curiosi- 
ty upon the fair girl — to look in her hlack eyes for some 
gleam which should betray the inherited cruelty — to watch 
her graceful, coquettish movements for some motions of the 
maternal wantonness— to gaze at the small hands and specu- 
late how many thumb-screws and joint-stretchers they had 
assisted to fasten ; and, above all, to note if the good aunt was 
likely to prove successful in her noted match-making project.- 
That she was only too likely to succeed, and that the young New 
Yorker was, undoubtedly, the unhappy victim, grew to be the 
universal opinion. There was, consequently, a high state of 
subdued excitement in the circle interested. 

This was the cause of the uneasiness in the Grason family. 
Mrs. Grason felt as if she were personally responsible to her 
brother and sister in New York for what should befall their 
beloved only son during his sojourn with her. Anxiety for 
his welfare prompted her to make every inquiry, to sift the 
dust of scandal, to trace the eddying whirls of rumor, and to 
decide for herself as to how much truth there was in the wild, 
shuddering gossip so freely afloat. Improbable as the stories 
were in their nature, she satisfied herself that they were 
founded in- fact — perhaps not even exaggerated. Then she 
felt that it was time to lay the matter before her nephew ; and 
she did so, as gently and discreetly as possible. His mingled 
anger and astonishment were enough to shock a weaker 
woman into hysterics ; but she stood her ground firmly, com- 
pelling him to listen, and warning him, as his own mother 
might have done. 

He laughed the possibility of the truth of such scandal to scorn. 
He sneered at her for giving it euough weight to repeat it. 

" You are too late, aunt," he cried, rising and pacing the 
floor before her. Mariquita and I are already betrothed. 
" Last night she promised to be mine" aud a glow of exulta- 
tion broke through his vexed expression. 

" Yet you have known her but three weeks I Is not thia 
haste, on her part, proof of at least considerable eagerness ?'* 

"Beware, aunt I even you must not say that ! Unmaiden- 
}y ! I wish you could have seen her blush — it was an angel's I 
i have loved her since the first time of our meeting ; I could 
tiot love her more, were we to wait to all eternity for love to 



20 THE TWO HUNTERS. 

grow. Then why should she not also be capable of returning 
the feeling instantly ? It is but a proof that we were made 
for each other — my sweetest proof Why should she hesitate 
and affect doubt? She does not donbt me any more than I 
do her. My family, my position, my reputation and prospects 
are all known to her. There is no reason for delay." 

" I wish hers were as well known to you," sighed his 
aunt. / 

*' I know them well enough. Her family is rich and re- 
spectable ; she has the blood of the Spanish nobility in her 
veins. But, even if she had not, Mariquita would be the same 
to us, aunt Grason. Yes ! if her mother were all that you 
represent her — if her mother and aunt had conspired to betray 
me into the match — it would not make a breath of difference 
in my estimation of that dear child. She is pure ; she is good 
and artless. If her mother is a devil, it is all the more reason 
why I should remove her from so baleful an influence." 

" You are mad, Louis, to talk that way. I thought you 
were a staunch believer in hereditary faults and virtues — in 
family influence — in the characteristics of blood. And even 
if Miss Mora's mother should prove to be a decent woman, 
what do you think you will do with such a mother's tropical 
butterfly, as your chosen bride, in your mother's quiet, well- 
ordered home. Will not all their tastes, habits, and views be 
of the most opposite kind ? Will it not be hard for your 
mother to bear with such a brilliant intruder — this southern 
girl, with her careless, indolent southern habits ? You are an 
only son, Louis, and you ought to reflect upon these things." 

" You mean well, aunt, but you don't understand Mariquita 
or me. Don't be troubled about my dear mother. I feel in 
my heart that she will love my wife. I am going to write to 
her,-this very day, to prepare her house and heart for the 
sweetest, brightest, most lovable daughter that ever a proud 
arwi happy son brought home. 

Nothing further could be done by the relatives but to allow 
matters to take their course. They hoped for the best, that 
Mariquita, being so young, was not yet corrupted by her 
mother's example ; and that her removal to an entirely differ- 
ent sphere, under the roof of so judicious a person as Mrs. 
Orason, might have a saving influence. 



\ 

THE MATCH MADE. 21 

Still, they could not be reconciled to the haste of the wed- 
ding. They understood that Louis desired to take his bride 
home with him in May, and that she had consented to his 
wish. In this haste, they were certain they saw the influence 
of the match-making aunt. 

Since the aflkir had gone so far, they were willing to use 
their influence to dispel the unpleasant rumors afloat. They 
called on the bride-elect to congratulate her, and to consult 
with the aunt about the details of the wedding. The cousins 
declared to their mother that they liked Mariquita, and did 
not believe there was any thing bad about her. 

" You know she told us, mamma, that she had been edu- 
cated in a convent, and had only been home some six weeks 
in as many years." 

" That may be one of her stories," was the suspicious reply. 
" Doubtless she fears we may have heard something, and is 
laboring to give us to understand that she is all right. Her 
eyes are wicked — I can not trust them. But they are very 
beautiful — I do not wonder they have bewitched your cousin I" 

" Do you consent that we shall be bridemaids, mamma ?" 

" For Louis' sake — yes. But I don't feel happy about it." 

Thereafter, there was a constant flutter in the house. Louis 
was like one half lost in a dream of delight, caring for none 
of the details, only waiting for the day when Mariquita should 
become his wife. But his gay cousins were all excitement 
over discussions of wedding-dresses, wedding- cards, wedding- 
presents. 



However — the wedding never took place. 



One soft April twilight, Louis Grason strolled along one of 
the wide, pleasant avenues which make the suburbs of St 
Louis so delightful. Already; in that earlier climate, the 
gardens were sweet with flowers, and the handsome houses 
looked out upon the broad road through curtains of roses that 
filled the evening air with delicious odors. Happy as one 
who walks in Paradise, he rambled on, thinking of Mariquita, 
and of coming May, when he became aware that he knew one 
of two persons who had emerged into the avenue from a 
side street, and were walking rapidly in advance of him. 



23 THE TWO HUNTERS. 

Yes, one of them was Mariquita. The twilight was deep- 
ening, but he could not be mistaken. She had worn that lilac- 
silk mantle when walking with him the day before. He saw her 
black braids beneath her little coquettish hat, and once, as he 
hurried forward, so as to approach nearer, he heard her cough. 
But who was she out with ? — and what for, at this hour, and 
so far from her aunt's house ? Her companion was a young 
man, slender, dark, southern-looking, well dressed, and of 
haughty, graceful carriage ; a stranger to St. Louis. Mariquita 
hung on his arm in the most confiding manner, turning her face 
up to his, laughing and chatting with the utmost gayety and 
freedom. A new sensation tingled through the lover's breast 
— a fierce pang of jealousy. His betrothed had no male 
relations — no male friends, in the city, sufficiently intimate to 
make it at all proper that she should thus cling to him, and be 
so afiectionately gay. He followed on, his thoughts growing 
every moment more confused, his heart raging within him, 
and yet not really comprehending what was before his 
eyes. 

Unconscious of pursuit, the couple hurried forward, until 
they were far out, almost beyond the range of city dwellings 
and gardens. Louis kept pace with them. Finally they en- 
tered a little summer resort, where ice-cream and cake could be 
procured, for those who were weary with promenading the pleas- 
ant avenue. It was a perfectly respectable place, to which 
Louis had been with his cousins. But that she should go there 
with this stranger ! He lurked under the trees until they 
came forth. The light of lamps was full on their faces as they 
descended the steps. There could be no mistake as to its being 
Mariquita. How prettily she looked up to the face of her grace- 
ful companion ! But now her mood had changed, a tear 
dropped on her cheek, she was sad, drooping. They paused, 
close under the shadow of the tree, from the other side of 
which Louis was watching them. 

-.There was a rustic bench which half-encircled the trunk, 
and upon this they seated themselves. For an instant pride 
struggled with Louis against listening to their conversation ; 
but, he felt that he had a right to know why Mariquita was 
there, and in that company ; and even had he felt otherwise, 
it is a question if he could have controlled the fierce emotions 



A STOLEN MEETING. 23 

which mastered him, suflSciently to have turned and left the 
spot. 

" Now, little Mariquita, in five minutes we must part," 

" Ah, Pedro, how can I endure to let you go !" 

" It's very hard, I know, pretty one. We love each other 
well. But I have already incurred dangers in seeking this 
interview. And, just think, Mariquita, not dangers onl}^, but 
what trouble and expense, all for one stolen meeting with my 
little girl!" and he laughed pleasantly. **^You think that 
lover of yours, whom you are going to marry, a veiy devoted 
adorer; but I'd risk my head that he wouldn't come all the 
way from Santa Fe just for an hour or two with you. Think 
of the thousands of miles, the hundreds of dollars, the uncom- 
fortable traveling, and the Comanches !" 

" Ah, Pedro," she answered, laughing a little, too, in echo 
of his own half-bantering, half-earnest tone, " don't pretend it 
was all for my sake. Hain't you just been telling me that 
you had important business — that your mining interests re- 
quired a visit to the States ? I wish you'd sell out these pro- 
voking mines, Pedro, and come to New York and live. That 
will be my home, you know, and mother will not annoy you 
there. "We could be free from those unhappy influences, 
Pedro, and enjoy each other's society as we ought." 

Her voice trembled, making Louis, as he leaned and listened, 
clutch at the handle of the knife, which he had already 
learned, since his sojourn in the city, to carry. 

*' I don't think I could be contented in the North, Mari- 
quita. It is too cold andi methodical for me. I like warm 
skies and hearts of fire. We don't stand very much upon 
ceremony at Santa Fe, my sweet ; and, although there is less 
variety, less news of the world than I desire, yet, if I had but 
you there, I fancy I should be satisfied to remain there." 

" You'll soon find some one to fill my place, Pedro. Some 
one of those handsome Mexican girls will make you a fine wife, 
and then you will not need me." 

" Quien sabe .?" said the other, gayly. *' Now, darling, I will 
hurry back with you, until we meet a carriage, when I will 
place you in it, and send you home. It is too late for you to 
be out alone, and you know I do not care to be seen with you, 
so I shall not venture near your aunt's. Besides, I fear you 



24 THE TWO HnNTERS. 

keep that lover waiting Give him my compliments, if you 
dare. It'll all be right some day, and then I shall meet him. 
Well, we must go" — they rose, pausing a moment, while 
Louis heard Mariquita sob. " It is hard to part. Give me a 
kiss, little girl." 

Their lips met under the shadows. There was murder in 
the heart of Louis. The knife leaped from its hiding-place ; 
had he been of Southern birtli,. no doubt it would have done 
its work of blood, but some powerful influence of a life-long 
training, drew back his hand, and the couple walked away 
unharmed. 

That night, Louis Grason, wandering aimless about the 
streets and wharves of St. Louis, heard the ringing of a 
steamer-bell, and just as the plank was being drawn in, sprung 
aboard, and found himself on the way to the little capital 
of Nebraska Territory. After a tedious interval, that 
seemed to him all dark and broken, like the delusion of a 
fever, he arrived at the little frontier settlement. Should he 
rest there ? The desire to keep stirring was resistless, while 
the wild and new life around him filled his heart with a new 
desire — that for adventure, excitement, peril, suffering — such 
a desire as, in more civilized communities, vents itself in the 
wild excesses of dissipation or suicide. Before him lay the 
boundless plains, with their limitless hills, valleys, rivers and 
wastes — with their myriads of buffalo and antelope — with 
their half-dozen tribes of savages, who lurked by the wayside 
to slay every intruder upon their domains. Behind him lay a 
life which he would forget, if possible. Should he hesitate ? 

A party of hunters, speculators and adventurers, were about 
to start, overland, for an expedition into the heart of the coun- 
try. He bought a rifle, a belt-revolver, a traveling-bag, and 
a good horse, and joined the party with their hearty assent. 
His reckless courage, his forced gayety, made him the best 
man of the company. As for him, it was a sweet relief from 
the thought of having found the woman he loved false, to 
bound away over the prairies, or to mingle in the excitement 
of the chase. He hunted buffalo, bears, or Comanches — it 
mattered little which. He made good friends with the hardy 
hunters, and found a dog which loved and served him with 
more than human fidelity. 



THE WANDERER. 25^ 

And so it chanced that, after about a year of adventure, he 
found himself, with his dog and Amos Buell, quite far away 
even from the ordinary track of western adventurers, following 
new fields along the course of the Red river, dreaming his 
still sad dreams under the shadow of the bold Wachita moun- 
tains. 



It is not strange that he shrunk from relating a history like 
this to the coarse and curious ear of his Yankee companion. 
What influence had drawn his steps in that direction he did 
not care to acknowledge even to himself. It was on the road 
to Santa Fe — that is on the Red river trail thither, for noth- 
ing like a well-traveled road was to be found in these wild 
and dangerous regions. 

But why Santa Fe ? The name burned into his brain, and 
seemed ever glowing before his eyes in letters of fire ! It was 
the home of "Pedro" — that half-seen and half-named person 
who had arisen on his path, so unexpectedly, blighting present 
and future in a few brief moments. What did he want of 
Pedro ? Nothing ! He had no call to revenge himself upon 
the man — this man, v.'ho had been her lover, before he knew 
of her existence ; it was the woman who was to blame. And 
should he meet the Spaniard, would he not kill him ? Why, 
then; did he take the route which led toward his victim ? 

In misery and inconsistency he dwelt, allowing " his fate," 
as he secretly called it, to draw him toward — he knew not 
what. 



Sm-ely he had enough to dream about, as he lay on the 
wind-swept prairie, looking up at the large southern stars. 
What had Mariquita thought of his sudden, unexplained ab- 
sence, and how had it affected her ? What did his friends 
believe had been his fate ? He knew they believed him to 
have been murdered in St, Louis, and thrown in the river, for 
he chanced upon a paragraph to that efi'ect in a newspaper 
which came in his way. One thing gave him great trouble — 
the distress of his parents. To mitigate this, he had written 
to them, explaining that his belief that he had loved unworthi- 
ly, was making a wanderer of him for the present, but that he 
would some time return to them, when " cured of his malady," 



26 THE TWO HUNTERS. 

a "wiser and a nobler man for his folly and his suffering. He 
lay, now, wondering if they ever received that letter, mailed 
as it was at a far out-lying military post — thinking of Madam 
Mora, that incredible, exceptional woman, or fiend — recalling 
the wi'ld stories which he had smiled at in incredulous scorn, 
until, in a moment, all became confirmed in his belief — that 
moment in which the truth of Mariquita grew a lie to him. 

In the midst of all his reveries, never did it come into his 
mind to put any other construction upon the girl's conduct, 
than the first, most natural one, which his jealousy had made. 



CHAPTEK III. 

HUNTING AND HUNTED. 

Several hours of intense silence and repose followed the 
disposal of the two hunters to their night's rest, when it was 
broken by the dog pushing his cold nose softly into Louis' face. 
Awaking instantly, and with every faculty on the alert, he 
became aware of distant noises and a vibratory motion of the 
earth. It took him but a moment to decide that both were 
caused by the rapid approach of a large number of horses. 
That these were not a wild brood, but under the guidance of 
the rein, he inferred from a certain regularity in their gait, 
differing from the thunder of the untamed drove, and not re- 
sembling the confused, continuous, tremulous roll of the buffa- 
lo herd. Raising his head a little, he looked about him. It 
was three o'clock, or earlier, of a June morning ; already a 
rosy flush brightened in the east, and the coming dawn was - 
paling the stars with its stronger light. Not more than the 
eighth of a mile away, a band of Indians were riding rapidly, 
\nd apparently directly toward the hunters' grassy couch. 
They might number thirty. Pressing down the head of his 
dog, and bidding him be silent, Louis shook his companion by 
the shoulder. With the long instinct of habit, Amos awoke 
as silently and suddenly as the young man himself had done. 

" Keep low — ^keep shady, Louis ; they 're Comanches, and 



'^ HERB THEY COME. 87 

a war party, at that," wliispered the Yankee, without a move- 
ment of his body except a slight •elevation of his head. 
*' What the mischief be they eout for, at this time o' inornin' ? 
Cre-acky ! here they be, right on us ! No, they ain't ; they've 
tuk to that path t'other side the creek. Keep quiet, my boy. 
Don't show your head over the grass. It's lucky for us it's 
high enough to kiver us." 

" There are two white persons with them, who seem to be 
prisoners," eagerly exclaimed the younger man. 

"Hushl so they be. And, Louis, there's our horses! 
Didn't I tell ye ? What you got to say, neow, about that dog 
o' yourn ? I know them red rascals by heart ; they'd steal a 
horse when you was a settin' on him, and you'd never know 
it till they was out o' sight !" 

" I've a mind to try my rifle on one or two of them." 

*' That would be sensible, wouldn't it, neow ? They'd hav' 
our scalps in less'n three minits, and we wouldn't hav' our 
horses. No, my boy, keep shady — here they come !" 

Men and dog crouched in the long grass, as the fierce par- 
ty swept by, at a distance of about fifty yards. The gray 
light of the dim dawn favored the hunters, who remained un- 
discovered^ while having a *' good look" at the ferocious thieves 
who had so cuimingly abstracted their horses some two or 
three nights previous. 

Su-ddenly Louis raised himself on his elbow ; in his excite- 
ment he would have sprung*to his feet, had not his Mend held 
him down. 

" It's a woman !" he gasped. 

" Yes, yes, I see that. But, don't get excited if it is. Now 
that I've took a closer look, I don't think they're prisoners. 
'Pear to me like travelers who have hired the Comanches to 
escort 'em to the nearest post or settlement." 

*' But, who travels in this region — especially what woman 
would be likely to put herself under such protection ?" asked 
the young man, gazing after the retreating forms with a star- 
tled, restless expression. 

. " 'Tain't a common occurrence, that's certain ; still, the 
Mexicaners do cross the country — the men quite often — and 
these people may have had an errand. It is quite common to 
hire the Injuns, when they're tol'ably peaceable, for guides; 



28 THE TWO HXmTERS. 

though that party teas rather strong, for the purpose. Come 
to think of it, them red-skins was Wachitas, and they've been 
hired by them whites to protect 'em from the Comanches. 
The Wacliitas is friendly — but they're powerful on stealin'. 
They can beat the Comanches at that game, though they ain't 
half as brave warriors. The whites were Mexicans, I should 
say. Give us your guess." 

*' They were dressed like Mexicans, and were of darker 
complexion than ourselves. Did you see the woman's face, 
Buell ?" 

" She looked to me like a young gal ; but I wouldn't swar' 
to it, in this light." 

*' Her hair was long and black, and she was small," contin- 
ued the other, more as if talking to himself than his com- 
panion. 

" Like as not ; I was taking more particular notice of her 
companion. He rode his horse splendidly ; never saw any 
thing nicer." 

" Was he young, too, and slender, with a black mustache ?" 
asked Louis, so earnestly that his friend laughed. 

" I s'pose he must have been young and tall, by the grace 
with which he managed that critter ; but I didn't have time 
to take an inventory. What's the matter with you, Louis ? 
You look as if you'd been struck, or had the colic, powerful." 

"Do you think we could keep up with them — overtake 
them ?" was the reply, as Louis stood up, and looked after the 
retreating party. 

" Do use common prudence," exclaimed Buell, jerking him 
down. Lf you want to git your horse back, thai ain't the way 
to do it. Lay low, till they're clean out o' sight, and then 
we'll take the trail. Of course, I don't exactly see how it's to 
be done, seein' they're mounted and we're on foot, but, I'm 
bound to fetch up with 'em sooner or later. If I don't git 
back them animals, I'll sell out and take the back track for 
tile States. I ain't going to be fooled by all the Wachitas in 
this territory. And, sence its them has got our horses I feel 
quite easy in my mind. Their principal village ain't a hundred 
miles fi'om here. They know me; I've been there. These 
fellows are going in the right direction. They'll take a rest in 
that village, and we'll overtake 'em there. If they won't give 



Jl splendid offer. 29 

np the beasts, we'll lay around till we get a chance to steal 'em 
back again. I'm powerful on that game when it's got to be 
done." 

" But, suppose they shouldn't be going there, after all ? 
Buell, I'd give a thousand dollars — five thousand, this mo- 
ment — if I was mounted, so that I could follow that party !" 

" Pity I hadn't an animal to sell you," remarked the Yan- 
kee, with his peculiar sharp look. " I'd like to take you up 
on that offer, right well. It hurts me awful to lose such a 
chance of makin' a good bargain. But, what's up, my friend ? 
'Pears to me you're onduly excited by the sight of that petti- 
coat. I never knew you had a weakness for the fair sect. It 
might do fur chaps like me, who hasn't any thing else to do ; 
but its kinder strange in you." 

" Of course I couldn't be sure, in the dim light," said Louis, 
" but, I thought I had seen the couple before. No doubt it 
was a fancy. It must have been I it must have been," he re- 
peated to himself " Yes, Kuell," with a short laugh, " I've 
made a fool of myself by imagining I knew them — as if iJiei/ 
could be here ! as if A^ could !" and again he was relapsing 
into soliloquy, when he shook off, by an effort, the feeling that 
disturbed him, adding, more naturally : 

*' I don't care for the white people so much, Buell, but I'd 
like to get my horse back, now that I've had a glimpse of 
him. Let's do our best at overtaking them. I'm ready for a 
start, this instant." 

" I ain't," was the cool response. " I^ going to blow up 
these coals, and warm up this coffee, before I stir a step. A 
good breakfast is a savin' of time — and I'm in a powerful 
hurry." 

So saying, he proceeded to prepare the coffee in a manner 
which seemed to his restless companion purposely intended to 
provoke him by its lazy deliberateness. In the mean time, the 
mounted party, which had produced such an excitement in our 
little group, grew less and less distinct across the level distance, 
and finally disappeared entirely around a spur of the moun- 
tains which stood out on the prairie. When his strained gaze 
could no longer detect a sign of them, Louis began striding 
back and forth along the bank of the creek, throwing impa- 
tient glances at the imperturbable Buell, who kc^pt one eye on 



80 THE TWO HUNTERS. 

the breakfast and one on the young man, inwardly wondering, 
with all the fervor of his Connecticut curiosity, " what was up" 
with his usually pleasant companion. . 

" You're a-wastin' ammunition awfully," he called out at last. - 
" You'll hev' enough walkin' to do before night^without takin' 
that furious exercise in advance. When I was Professor of 
Hygiene in a Water-Cure establishment down to hum, I used 
to recommend just that sort o' walkin' before an 'arly break- 
fast ; but, ' circumstances alter cases,' and I'd advise you, young 
man, to hold your hoi-ses. Howsumever, things are bllin' and 
you're perlitely invited to set to." 

Louis came up and took his tin-cup of hot coffee, standing; 
but his friend remained stretched at e^se upon the grass, 
diversifying the rather limited bill of fare with plenty of grum- 
bling. 

" 'Tain't fair to hurry a fellow so's he can't prepare a decent 
meal. I was lottin' on killin' a young deer for breakfast, if 
them plaguy Wachitas hadn't put us in such a hurry. I don't 
fancy dried buffalo, when there's plenty o' fresh meat about — 
do you, Dick ? — and what's left o' that turkey ain't worth 
pickin', even by a dog. I tell you, my young friend, as I used 
to say at revivals, there's no use o' bilin' clean over, for it puts 
the fire out entirely. The cooler you take it the quicker you'll 
get to your journey's end. You've eat nothin' but a cracker, 
and the consequence will be, you'll give out before we've 
marched. fifteen miles. I'm in for a fifty-mile stretch without 
a wink o' sleep, but?you're goin' to peg out afore we git to the 
half-way house." 

Thus he kept up a running fire of remarks, which did not 
interfere at all with the huge mouthfuls of jerked meat and 
hard biscuit, of which he rapidly disposed, his comrade mak- 
ing no reply, and not hearing half he said. 

It is not strange that the young hunter was feverish and 
excited. In the midst of that wild cavalcade, sweeping past 
-him in the weird dim light of early dawn, on that fer-off 
southern prairie, so far from every vestige of his former life, he 
had seen a woman, so like Mariquita, that, at the time of her 
passing, he could have sworn it was her. So swiftly, so un- 
expectedly came the vision, sweeping down upon him, as he 
started from his dreams — for so brief a time was she near 



FOOTING IT. 31 

enough for liim to be at all certain of the resemblance — so in- 
credible did it seem to his second thought that it could be her — 
that, scarcely was the band fairly beyond him, than he began 
to doubt the impression which at first had been positive. 

When the troop was approaching him, his attention had 
become too eagerly fixed upon the woman for him to give a 
glance at her companion, until after they had passed. Then, 
looking, in a deep dread and fear that it was him, he recalled 
the form which he had seen, first, as now, from behind : it 
was the same ! — the graceful, erect shoulders, the haughty 
head, the straight black hair. 

" Queer ! what's got into him ! If the sight of a band of 
Injuns can upset him like that, he ain't the man I took him 
for. Pshaw ! that can't be it. Never see a cooler head in 
danger than his is. If 'twan't too improbable I should say 
them petticoats had something to do with it. Thought they 
resembled acquaintances of his'n — hum! But them were 
Mexicans — and he's never been further south than this. He's 
mighty stubborn about keepin' his own counsel ; but I'll worm 
it out of him as certain as my name's Buell. Well, Louis, 
if you're ready for a start, I am." 

They shouldered their rifles, and, with their light kit sus- 
pended at their backs, took up their march in the direction 
taken by the mounted party. It was no credit to Dick that, 
running in advance, he kept the trail so well. The merest 
tyro of a dog or hunter could have doAe as much without 
difficulty, for the grass was well cut up by the hoofs of so 
many animals. In addition, Amos Buell had been over the 
roate once before, in the preceding year, when he made the visit 
to the village of the Wachitas, which he mentioned. They 
were but little more than thirty-five miles from that village, 
which was situated on Rush Creek ; it being his opinion that 
the band of Indians they had seen, if hired to convey the 
white travelers along the route, would pause, for at least one 
night, as well as the remainder of the day, at these lodges, the 
Yankee did not feel so very uneasy about overtaking them. 
A tramp of a couple of hours brought them around the hill 
which stood out, like an advance guard, on the prairies. Be- 
tween the indentations of this, they passed into a lovely, fer- 
tile valley, watered by a clear stream, along whose banks 



83 THE TWO HUNTEKS. 



g ew rees of considerable size. Keeping upon the margin of 
this he day and the scene were so pleasant that, had Louis 
been less preoccupied, he would have been enthusiastic in 
his delight. As it was, he seemed only to think of making 
good tmie. They had passed over many miles of this ba^ 
tiful region, and the sun had climbed high in the heavens 
when they entered a little grove of pecan trees which rose 
high above their heads, and threw welcome shadows over 
ttm. The creek, falling over rocks near by, made liquid 
notes m harmony with the place. It was eviden that the In- 
«ians had had the good taste to pause here for breakfast as 

"w7tl. '"*■.'" """ ^"" ^-oWering near the bank 

Well take our dinner m the same spot," remarked Buell 

commg to a halt " You brisk up the fire'a little, Louis and 

we 11 have some br'iled venison for the first course. I'l iust 

Weaf 'Tm"""'' '^''T'' '"'''' "'^ ""^^ quiet, and use the 
Ti, , " '°?° •="""? ^ ^°''' fof deer's plenty in this valley" 
^^ ±iut It will take so much time," remarked the other 

te,- ,,t! "■''"'I' ■^'"' "" °'^"' ''°°"=^ ">''° y°°. and you'd bet- 

You look fagged a'ready, while I'm as bright as a button. I 
calculate to stop here jist two hours ; so you can make your- 
sef comfortable. All I feel troubled about is the necessify of 
kilhn my venison by using a bleat. It's a mighty mean way 
o dom', that's a fact-and I never resort to It unless TmZ 
too much of a hurry for a reg'lar hunt. Jest you keep up the 
coals to the br'ilin' p'int, and have some water b'iled for the 
coffee, and I'll be back in half an hour," and with long strides 
he-Yankee made off silently through the woods, and was 
soon out of sight of his companion. 

Louis obeyed orders, so far as to rekindle the fire, and keep 
t fed with dry wood; and when it finally promised a fine 
bed ofcoals, he set the coffee-pot near, and withdrew to the 
shadow of a large tree, which hung over the water, Just where 
the ripples, eddying over rocks, made the loudest music It 
was a place to dream in ; and in ten minutes his thouo-hts 
were busy with the past, and with the vision of the morn- 

If that were a real vision, and not a mockery, should he be 
glad or sorry? Were those who passed him that mor^g 



' A PANTHER. 33 

the persona he supposed, he felt that the old bitterness would 
revive. To see tliem together, was more than he could calmly 
bear. Lost in reflections of this engrossing character, the 
moments slipped away ; he forgot his haste, the fire, the ab- 
sent hunter, the Red river country — every thing but Mari- 
quita and her dark-browed lover. 

In the mean time, Dick, hopeless of his master's attention, 
had wandered off in search of game on his own responsibility. 

Suddenly, through the deep silence, broke the sharp crash 
of a rifle ; a moment later, there was a crash of underbrush. 
Thoroughly startled from his lonely reverie, Louis looked up 
to see a panther in the open space before him. Lashing his 
tail, his eyes shining like green fire, his breast streaming with 
blood, the maddened creature paused in his very path, pre- 
pared in two seconds more to leap upon him. Mechanically 
the young man reached for his rifle, which he had leaned 
against the tree at his side, trying to make the movement 
as softly as possible, for instinct told him that any attempt to 
stir would hasten his peril. With the coolness of sudden 
imminent danger, his eyes looked quietly into the burning 
orbs of the beautiful, ferocious beast. A fascination, such as 
that attributed to the rattlesnake, began to wrap him, as he 
gazed, though his hand still moved cautiously in search of his 
rifle, when his attention was distracted by the appearance of 
Buell, who came making through the grove, shouting to him 
to look out. The spell was broken for the panther, also ; 
for, just as Louis, starting a little at the cry of Buell, and turn- 
ing his eyes, knocked over the weapon he meant to possess, 
the creature sprung. He was bonie to the earth beneath its 
weight ; its hot breath was in his face ; he felt its teeth in his 
shoulder ; but, at that horrible crisis, he heard the fierce yelp 
of his dog, and was conscious that Dick had grappled with 
the enemy. The panther threw off the dog, as if he were a 
feather, but, in the instant thus gained, Louis freed his knife 
from his belt, and inflicted a severe wound in the aniraars 
chest, which caused it to draw back ; only, however, to return 
more furiously to the charge, when the fierce beast was again 
throttled by the faithful dog, who held to his throat until his 
master dealt a second and more effective blow, piercing the 
panther's eye to his brain. 



84 THE TWO HUNTERS. 

" Well done, Dick ! You're a soldier ! Smart dog, that," 
cried Buell, running up, out of breath, as the creature stretched 
itself out in death. *' Hallo, Louis, how are you ! Alive, my 
boy ? Good for you ! I thought your time had come. 
"Wouldn't have given a jack-knife for your chance two minutes 
ago. Here, take a drop of whisky, and don't faint, now it's 
all over." 

" I don't feel like fainting," said Louis, sitting down, while 
the color came back to his white face. " But, it isn't pleasant 
to have such a bad breath as that so close in your face, and 
my shoulder don't feel altogether conifortable." 

He leaned back against the tree, looking rather ill, despite 
his assurance. Buell insisted on his swallowing some spirits, 
and then immediately, in a business-like manner, stripped the 
torn and bloody clothing from the mangled shoulder. 

" 'Tain't as bad as it might be, young man ; two or three 
pretty deep gashes. They'd soon heal, if it wasn't for the 
p'ison. I'll wash 'em out well in cold water, and keep on wet 
clothi. Nothin' like cold water, as I used to say when I was 
a Ir Iropathic doctor down our way, unless I can find some 
pltintain leaves. I seen the Injuns use 'em here, last year, and 
they drew the p'ison of snakes out like a charm. Oh, Louis, 
here's some of 'em, sure as my name ain't Moses. I'll bruise a few 
and bind on, and if that shoulder ain't 4iealed up in less'n 
three days, I'll eat a peck of Epsom salts. Poor Dick ! you 
cotched it too, didn't you ! That's right ! go in the water, 
and keep there a spell. If humans knew how to doctor half 
as well as dumb brutes, there wouldn't be so many bills to pay. 
Jist soak yourself well, Dick. There, you're purty comfort- 
able, my friend. Blast it, the worst of it is we've lost our 
dinner. Here I am without a bit o' fresh meat. You see, 
when I used the bleat, expectin' the mother deer to run to the 
rescue, thinkin' she heard her young-un' cry, instid of the doe, 
out come this here ugly customer, expecting to get a nice 
fawn for his dinner. Wal, I was behind a bush, and he comes 
close up, lookin' for the fawn. I had plenty o' time to take 
good aim, and I thought I'd made sure of his eye, but whether 
I was onduly excited or not, I can't say — leastwise, I made 
an unpardonable blunder. I hit the beast in the breast, and 
didn't kill him. He came at the bush in a towering rage, but 



A PLANTAIN-POULTICE. 36 

I got out o' the way, and give him a dig iu the ribs, from 
behind a tree, which made him madder'n ever ; but lie couldn't 
find me, he was so blind and furious ; so he sot off in your 
direction. I tliought of you, and I took after him with a 
vengeance, but he was a little too fast for me. I could a' killed 
him after he'd tackled you ; but I was afraid of murderin' my 
friend at the same time. I was comin' up with my knife 
when Dick pitched in. But it's all-fired mean, we've lost our 
dinners, for we can't eat that flesh," and he kicked the dead 
panther. 

" Dear, brave Dick," said Louis, as the dog crept out of the 
water, and lay down by his master's side, looking wistfully 
and joyfully into his face, as if lie knew he had served him. 
" Never mind the dinner, Buell ; we'll make out with what 
we have. And in the mean time, I'd advise you to reload 
your rifle. If this is the kind of game you hmit about here, 
it behooves us to be ready for it. So you thiuk this provok- 
ing wound is going to prevent my traveling V" 
• " Them plantains '11 keep down the inflailimation ; so, if 
you don't overheat yourself, there'll be no danger. We'll jist 
hold on, till the sun's a little lower, and then purceed to the 
best of our ability. There'll be a small show of moon in the 
first of the evenin', and it's my opinion we'll reach the Injun 
village about midnight. Hist, boys, there goes an antelope ! 
Lend me your gun, Louis — we'll have some fresh meat yet." 

Louis smiled at the pertinacity of the Yankee, who, having 
made up his mind to " fresh meat," hated to give up the 
idea. In a minute more, an antelope lay dying iu the grass. 
Louis occupied himself loading the rifles, while Amos, de- 
lighted with his success, busied himself getting up a good 
dinner. 

The vision of the morning, in the midst of these stirring 
realities, grew more and more like a dream to the younger 
hunter, until, when ready again to resume the journey, he 
was persuaded that he had been the victim of a delusion. 

Still, there were the horses to recover ; and they started on, 
animated with the resolution to outwit the thieving Wachitas. 

Louis' shoulder was painful, but not so much so as he had 
feared — the cool bandages of plantain acting like a charm. 
Had he been suflering ten times as much he would not have 



8G THE TWO HUNTKIiS. 

given up. Something drew him forward with silent power, 
albeit, he reflected severely upon the weakness of his" self-delu- 
sion. It had been an eventful day for him — much more event- 
full even than his companion could guess or apprehend. 



CHAPTER IV. 

IN THE NET AGAIN. 

" Do hear them pesky dogs. They'll have the hull village 
roused," muttered Buell, as the two adventurers drew near the 
confines of the Wachita lodges. " It ain't best to go any 
nearer, at present. It must now be nigh onto midnight, and 
we're purty nigh tuckered eout. We'll jist drop down here 
and take a good nap. About three o'clock, as soon as it's 
light enough to pick eout our own, we'll jist creep inside the 
corral, and git our animals. Jerusha ! won't it be fun, after 
we're safely mounted, to rouse up every darned Injun, and let 
'em see how much smarter white folks are than red-skins ?" 

Chuckling with anticipated triumph, he spread his blanket 
and laid down ; Louis, who felt a little chilly with fatigue and 
pain, took the warm breast of Dick for a pillow, and drew his 
blanket closely about him. He, too, was soon asleep, for ho 
had exerted himself greatly ; but, the twinges of pain in his 
shoulder disturbed his slumbers, and they were full of broken 
dreams. Now, he .would be facing that terrible panther, so 
glossy, so graceful, yet so dangerous ; and, anon, the wild crea- 
ture would glide into the likeness of Mariquita. He would 
shudder as her eyes shone upon him with that soft, alluring, 
yet fearful fascination, out of the panther's face. Or, seeing 
Mariquita, all gentle, caressing, and beautiful, he would ap- 
proach her, to take her to his bosom, when suddenly the hot, 
fetid breath of the wild animal would mingle with his own, 
and that savage embrace would agonize him. In such slum- 
ber there was but little refreshment, and he was glad, after 
starting out of one of these disagreeable dreams, to distinguish 
a faint flush along the eastern horizon. Touching Buell, the 



STEALING one's O'VP'N. 37 

two men, a moment later, were stealing noiselessly into an 
inclosure, where a hundred or so of mustangs and horses 
could be dimly seen, standing or lying, in their night's repose. 

So perfectly guarded were their movements that not a sin- 
gle one of the numerous little dogs appointed to give warning, 
awoke. • Dick, silent and wary as his master, had no sooner 
entered the corral, than he trotted quietly to a certain animal, 
standing on the further side. Louis followed, knowing that 
he should be led directly to his own horse ; and, surely enough, 
when he reached Dick, there stood the splendid black stallion 
he so prized and loved. A low whinny of delight was given 
by the horse, but Louis put his hand over his mouth, and sev- 
ering the thong which bound him to a stake, the next instant 
he was upon his noble steed's back. Dick, well satisfied, then 
trotted off after the other horse, which he soon found — sooner 
than Buell would have done, since the light was not strong 
enough to distinctly mark objects a short distance away. This 
was also a very fine animal, though not equal to that of Louis, 
who had purchased his with a large sum of money, from a 
Mexican noble, several months previously. 

The two probably were quite the best horses of the collec- 
tion ; and no doubt the Wachit'ns felicitated themselves highly 
on their cunning robbery. Walking them softly out of the 
inclosure, and for some distance down the valley, they there 
awaited, behind the shelter of a copse, the surprise and dis- 
comfiture of the robbers, when they should emerge from their 
lodges- and discover the absence of their stolen treasures. 

Buell was thinking solely of this ; but his companion was 
agitated by far other feelmgs. During the hours of night, 
both while waking and sleeping, the belief again had gained 
ground with the young hunter that he was near Mariquita. 
The Yankee would have opened his inquisitive little ejes to 
their fullest could he have " guessed " half the fire which was 
raging in the young man's bosom, like a repressed volcano. 

One thing Louis resolved upon : If it was Mariquita and 
her lover, he would remain unidentified by them. This, he 
was aware, might be impossible, yet that he^iad changed very 
much in his appearance during a year of out-door exposure, 
gave him great hope. His complexion, once rather delicate, 
and of northern fairness, was now tanned almost to as dark a 
81 2 



38 THE TWO HUNTERS. 

brown as glowed in the cheek of the southern cavalier ; his 
hair and beard were long and iintrimmed, and his dress that 
of an ordinary hunter. , Still, he would like to disguise him- 
self further, and knowing that Buell had, at the bottom of his 
kit, a quantity of coarse black Indian hair, strung on a coro- 
net of wire, which he sometimes wore when lie wished to pass 
himself off for a native, the young man asked for it. 

" What kink hev' you got in your noddle, now ?" asked the 
Yankee, good-naturedly, turning out the contents of his sack, 
to find the desired article. " Want to set up for a Waco, and 
steal the heart of some o' them young squaws ? Pshaw ! I 
ain't no objections to the fair sect, m5^self, as a gineral thing, 
but them Wachitas is too humbly and too dirty for me. Say 
neow, Louis, what you fixin' up fur ? I've never seen you do 
it before, and I shan't stir a step till I know what it's all 
about, danged if I do ; so, jis' make a clean breast ov your 
amouricious designs." 

" Well," replied Louis, laughing in the midst of his secret 
agitation, at the insatiable curiosity of his comrade, " there is 
no more use trying to keep a secret from j'ou than a Comanche 
from the scent of Dick's nose. I don't think any man ac- 
quainted with Amos Buell would accuse the' other sex of undue 
interest in their neighbors' aifairs. If you'll promise to drop 
my name, for the present, and call me Pitkins, instead ^pf Louis, 
I'll promise to give you a reason for it." 

" Well, Mr. Pitkins, what's your reason ?" queried the Yan- 
kee, sharpening his ell)ows, and taking up an attitude of such 
intense solicitude that Louis laughed again. "Out with it, 
afore I guesses it." 

" You've often questioned me about my past life, Buell, and 
you've guessed rightly that some unpleasant occurrence caused 
nv sudden departure from all former pursuits, and this com- 
plete change in my habits. I can not give you the particulars 
410W ; but, this much I will confess. In the white man who 
passed us j^esterday, I thought I recognized the person who 
was the reason of my leaving the States. It is enough to say 
that he wronged Me, and that I hate him bitterly — as you hate 
a rattlesnake. You can see for yourself that it would be un- 
pleasant for us to meet. However, I am so much changed 
that I do not believe he will recognize me." 



THE WACHITA VILLAGE. 39 

"If there's any likelihood of his calling you eout, or pickin' 
a quarrel with you, wliy not let him alone ?" asked his listener, 
his keen ftice glowing all over with satisfaction at being made 
the recipient of tliis important confession. " AVe've got our 
horses, and we can just turn tail and back out o' these quar- 
ters if they're onpleasant to j'^ou. But, it seems to me, Louis 
— I beg your pardon, Pitkins — that you was mightily taken 
up with that gal, yesterday. Mebbe she's got something to 
do with the affair, too, eh ? Petticoats is allers mixed up with 
every real oncompromising muss atween men." 

A blush of mingled anger and confusion Tjroke through the 
tawny hue of the young man's cheek ; but, it would be useless 
to quarrel with the good-hearted and brave Amos Buell, so he 
replied, without answering the question : _ 

"I don't care to leave until I am certain that is the man. 
You know I was by no means assured he was the same ; and 
I should, also like to know what relation that woman sustains 
to him, if this should prove to be the man I think it is." 

" Jest so," was the quiet response, for his interrogator, know- 
ing Louis would tell no more than he thought proper, had 
made up his mind to wait and judge for himself, confident 
that he should, ere long, know all. The prospect of a secret, 
to be picked out by degrees, was exhilarating, and put him in 
the best of humors. 

By this time, the village began to be astir, and presently 
there arose a great outcry. The two whites, watching the 
scene from their ambuscade, could see men, women and chil- 
dren running to and fro between the lodges. It was evident 
that the loss of their lately-acquired property awakened much 
wrath and sorrow, it, doubtless, being laid to the Comanches. 
"When the whole five hundred inhabitants were well stirred up, 
and out-of-doors — " Now," said Buell, " let's ride quietly 
into town, and inquire what's up." 

Our friends were not afraid of the consequences, as they 
knew they had the right on their side, and the Wachitas were 
both cowardly, and friendly to the Avhites. As they rode out 
of the shadow of the copse, and proceeded up the street of the 
village, with Dick at their heels, the outciy suddenly subsided, 
as the conscience-stricken inhabitants gazed mutely at the un- 
expected apparition. 



40 THE TWO HUNTERS. 

" What's up ?" sung out the Yankee, in his most nasal tone, 
looking fibout upon the crowd witli a triumphant leer. " Two- 
bear-e-kets-ah walh-ta-tdHlif — (man dead?) 

Nobody having recovered sufficient to answer, he con- 
tinued : 

" Totch.esch coriDali-sa ? Ah, no-com-a-che /" — (have your 
horses gone ?-7'ah, the Comanches !) 

Here lie drew rein and looked coolly about him. Presently 
two or three Indian men, looking very foolish, came slowly up 
to them. " We're travelers," he said, " want breakfast, want . 
food for horses, wtmt guides to go on West. Can you give 
them ? We pay well." And he jingled the loose silver and 
other contents of his pockets. Speaking partly in Wachita, 
partly Mexican, and a little English, he managed to make 
himself understood, and was answered in the same jargon. 

" Yes, they could have breakfast, and green-corn, and 
guides. There were two white people with them now, who 
wanted to go on to Santa Fe, and who had hired some of 
them, at a good price, to protect them from the Comanches. 
Tlie Comanches were veiy mad at the white people — they had 
torn up the papers sent them by the Great Father — they had 
killed white folks last week. Mustn't travel without much 
company. Where did they wish to go ? — to Santa Fe, also V" 

All this time the Indians looked so crestfallen and guilty, 
that Buell shook with suppressed laughter. It was a good 
joke, to him, worth the three days of tramping they liad been 
obliged to make since their horses were stolen. He consulted 
Louis as to what answer he should give about their traveling 
toward Santa Fe. Louis bade him, by all means, to say they 
were going there, and should be glad of aU the company they 
could get. 

At this moment a white man came out of one of the lodges 
near by, looking at the group with great interest. Yes, it was 
Mm /' — that nameless stranger, seen but once, yet how well 
inown ! — vsith whom the young hunter's fate had been so 
tangled. Louis gazed at him with hot, blind eyes, and heart 
wdiich almost choked him. The Spaniard's hat was off, his 
loose, embroidered jacket open at the throat, himself as grace- 
ful, haughty, careless a specimen of southern beauty and chiv- 
alry as the young northerner ever had beheld. 



HARD QUESTIONS. 41 

While Buell was busy with the crowd, Louis could only 
gaze at the stranger, until the thought occurring to him that 
Mariquita (if it, indeed, were she) might also be reconnoitering 
tJiem from some hidden part of tbe lodge, and might recognize 
him despite his strange dress and changed appearance, made 
bim ride around to the other side of his friend, where he 
would be partially screened from observation. With his hat 
drawn low down, keeping in Buell's shadow, he gazed covert- 
ly toward the lodge, with eager eyes, unmindful of the remarks 
and proceedings of his companion, who was enjoying himself 
hugely. 

As it would be impossible to translate the mixed Indian 
and Mexican of the Yankee, we will not attempt to do so. 

" Lost your horses, hey ? — too bad I We was in the same 
fix — some rascally, thieving dogs of Wacos or Comanches — it 
must ha' been them ('caus3 the perlite, gentlemanly Wachitas 
never do such things) — took 'em, without even askin', when me 
and Dick was asleep. Had to foot it three days — too bad, 
wasn't it ? Knew you'd feel bad when you heard it ! Such 
fine horses, too. Make a tribe rich to own a few sich. We 
scarcely ever expected to see 'em ag'in, but Providence di- 
rected our steps to the corral of the cussed thieves; and Dick 
brought out our animals, all right. . Congratulate us, my 
friends, good Wachitas I What do 3^ou think we ought to 
do to the rascals ? Don't you think they ought to be pun- 
ished ?" 

He looked innocently into their alarmed faces as he asked 
the last two questions ; they fell back a pace or two, and 
grunted a feeble assent, stealing frightened glances at each 
other. 

" Hadn't they ought to be made to catch it, right smart ?" 

Two or three faint nods and grunts were the only reply. 
He well knew how noisy would have been their condemnation 
of the thieves, had they had the slightest chance to lay the sin 
upon others' shoulders. 

*' Teou, brave chief, old fellow, yeou look wise as a judge. 
Say, what d'j^e think ought to be done to the thieves ?" he 
asked an old Indian, in a chief's dress, whose face was a com- 
pound of meanness, covetoasness, and duplicity. The old fel- 
low's eyes blinked ruefully, but he made no response. 



42 THE TWO nUNTEliS. 

" Sliouldn't you say they ought to give us a good break- 
fast, a couple o' bushels o' green-com, three or four pieces of 
money, and take us along a hundred miles, more or less, for 
nothing ?" 

The chief made a grimace, while an expression of deep 
desi:)ondency began to settle on the faces, at first so alert with 
the promise of white strangers to pluck. 

" Speak out — don't be afraid! If that ain't severe enough, 
mebbe we'd better insist on their giving us a couple o' horses 
to carry our luggage — for we were put to much trouble, let 
me tell you." 

" They ought to do what the senor said first," finally 
replied the chief, with great reluctance, in tolerable Spanish. 

" Good, Wachitas ! d'ye hear ? Your chief tells you to get 
us some breakfast, with plenty o' b'iled green-corn, and give 
us a guard on our journey ; and he advises you never to 
meddle with Yankee horses again — cause 'tain't no use! 
We're too smart. Clear out, and cook our breakfast — scatter, 
you nasty copperheads !" 

" See 'em, goin' off like whipped dogs," chuckled Buell, 
turning to Louis, and speaking his native tongue ; " they're 
an awful disappointed set. Keep a good look eout, or they'll 
steal the buttons off the back of yer coat. Oh, but they need 
a thrashing, every one on 'em. I know 'em ! Lordy, but 
they feel mean ! Do yau know, Pitkins, this would be just 
the place for a right smart Yankee peddler ? A good many 
of them trinkets they wear, are solid silver, and I could 
wheedle 'em away if I only had a kit full of gimcracks. 
Jerusha ! wouldn't this be a pretty spot to sell out that last 
lot o' clocks, I sacrificed for ninety cents apiece ? I wouldn't 
leave this village till eveiy wigwam had a clock tickin' in it, 
and all the little pappooses dancin' to the music. A load of 
clocks, neow, with a lookin' -glass in the door of 'em, icould 
create a sensation! I'd have all the silver dollars in the 
Wachita territory. But, that's the plague of speculating ! you 
can't get your wares to the right market, or the market's over- 
done. Something's always wrong. By the way, is that the 
chap, Mr. Pitkins ?" 

" Yes," was the brief reply. " But, let us ride on a few 
steps further, as I don't care to be recognized." 



THE STRANGER. 43 

" He's coming out to speak to us, which is only uat'ral, 
consideria' the scarcity of white follis in these parts. You 
can ride on, and let me do the talkin', if you think best." 

Knowing that the stranger had no idea of his identity, and 
being careful to keep his back toward the lodge, Louis con- 
cluded to keep still. Little did the young Spaniard imagine, 
as he gave a polite greeting to the two hunters, that, under 
the slouched hat of one scowled the brows of the bitterest 
enemy he had in the world. He asked the travelers whither 
they were going, saying he should be glad if their routes lay 
the same way, as he understood the Comanches were, at 
present, more troublesome than usual. As Buell did not know 
the wishes of his friend, he was compelled to allow him to do 
the principal part of replying. Louis answered that they were 
hunters, who ware out merely for adventure ; that they had 
no fixed route to pursue, but had thought some of going as 
far west as Santa Fe. The Spaniard seemed pleased at this, 
urging them to do so, and saying that he would be glad to 
extend them the hospitalities of his house in Santa Fe, in 
return for the pleasure of their company. The more, 4}i,e 
merrier, as well as the safer. He had had much dealing with 
the Coihanches, and ordinarily was not afraid of encounter- 
ing them ; but, he believed they had lately become exaspe- 
rated at some real or ftincied injury, and that quite a large 
war-party was now out, to waylay white travelers. 

" Have you confidence in the braveiy of your Wachita 
guard, in case of an attack ?" asked Louis. 

His voice sounded in his own ears like the voice of a 
stranger. The effort to be calm, under the circumstances, was 
perfect. 

" Kot much," said the stranger, smiling. " I rely more upon 
my own arm than upon them." 

There was a quiet courage, blended with fanciful humor, in 
that smile of the young Spaniard, which would immediately 
have kindled a glow of sympathetic liking in Louis' bosom, 
had the relation between them have been different. He 
mused, for a moment, what decision to make with regard to 
accepting the offer of joining forces. He Imew that it would 
be nearly, or quite impossible, to approach ]M!vriquita, as he 
would be compelled to do in the event of accompanying 



44 THB TWO HUNTERS. 

them, witliout his betraying to her his identity. This conld 
be productive of nothing but painful, if not tragic, conse- 
quences. Yet, if there was really any imminent danger of the 
Indians, could he leave her to go on, unaided by such help as 
two more courageous men might give the party ? 

Ah ! as that question was put to his own heart, Louis felt 
that he still loved the beautiful, false being who had shone 
upon him but to blast his budding hopes. He had persuaded 
himself that he loathed, despised her — that she was nothing 
to him but a degrading memory. Yet, at the idea of peril, of 
a cruel death perhaps, to her, he began to feel that, despise 
her as he did and must, he loved her still. 

Another proof that love still lingered, was in the intense, 
the angry jealousy he felt toward the man before him. A 
thrill of mingled joy and hatred passed along his nerves at 
the thought, that perhaps the Spaniard might fall a victim to 
the Indians, while he should be permitted to rescue Mariquita. 
The next moment he upbraided himself for the guilty thought. 
The blood of a hundred lovers could not make Mariquita 
l«table, were she as treacherous as his own eyes and ears 
had proven her to be. 

In the mean time, impatient at playing " second fiddle" in 
the colloquy, his Yanlvce friend had begun " a swop" with a 
dirty Wachita, whom he was trying to persuade that a broken- 
bladed jack-knife was still as good as new, and a fair exchange 
for a handsome pair of Mexican stirrups which he coveted for 
his horse's accouterments, and which the other had suspended 
across his shoulders, having probably been on his way to the 
corral, perhaps to saddle that very horse, when its loss was 
discovered. 



CHAPTER y. 

THE CAINON CAMP. 

" What say you to my proposition, senor ?" asked the 
Spaniard, who seemed to have taken a fancy to the young 
hunter, despite his constrained, unfriendly expression. " You 
are brave, I know — one of the kind to enjoy adventures, so 



THE SIREN VOICE. 45 

that they be not too hazardous. I have some fine mines to 
show you, when we arrive m New Mexico. Perhaps you 
will conclude to femain there, as I did, quite unexpectedly to 
myself. I, too, was a rover, without any particular object, 
except, to be sure, in my poor case, I inherited from my 
father the right, title and interest of half a dozen poorly- 
worked gold-mines in Northern Mexico. I doubt, however, 
if I should ever have tried to make the property available, if 
unpleasant matters at home had not driven me abroad." 

Before Louisr could frame an answer, a voioe thrilled through 
him, driving the color from his cheek, and causing him to 
start, despite the guard which he had established over himself 

" Pedro !" 

So sweet, so clear, so tender !— that same siren voice ! — 
ah, heaven ; how it ran like fire through and through him ! 
how it brought back the past ! the last evening he had spent 
with her, when she had brought the bridal vail, and with 
blushes and laughter, had thrown it over her black hair, to 
show him how it was to become her, when — He bit his 
lip till the blood stained his teeth, forcing himself to com- 
posure. He did not see her, for he had jDurposely turned 
his back to the cabin, but he knew that she had come to the 
door, and that, if he should change his position, he would meet 
her face to face. 

" Yes, Mariquita, I'll be with you in a moment," answered 
the Spaniard, speaking in English, as he had done- to the 
hunters. 

" You've got a right purty little wife, there," remarked 
Buell, who, unable to effect the desired " trade," had turned 
at the sound of a woman's voice, and given one of his 
impudent, curious stares at the girl, and now gave his 
opinion to the stranger, with characteristic freedom — " a 
right purty little " wife. I don't wonder you feel a little 
shy of the Coraanches, with such company aboard." 

" Wife ?" queried the Spaniard, with another flashing, 
amused smile ; and then, as if thinking better of the explana- 
tion, about to arise to his lips, added — " she is, indeed, a fine 
little girl, and very dear to me. It is more on her account, 
than any thing else, that I wish' for a stronger escort. I 
should not like harm to befall my little Mariquita." 



46 THE TWO HUIxTERS. 

The slight accent of surprise and amazement — was it not, 
also, contempt ? — had not escaped Louis, nor the afterthought 
to let the mistake go uncorrected. 

" She is not even his wife," he muttered, under his breath. 

" rii go r 

" What shall I tell her ? She is impatient to hear the news." 
again asked the Spaniard. 

" We will go with you, at least until you are satisfied that 
you have passed or out-traveled the war-party," said Louis. 
" We came upon its trail the day before yesterday, and, I 
think, you, too, must have passed it. It seems to me, it took 
a different direction from our route." 

•' That is nothing. They'll be sure to come out somewhere 
on the road where least expected." 

*' And now, as I suppose you care not how early you start, 
we will betake ourselves to breakfast, feed our horses, and be 
read}^ to take up the line of march. In the mean time, if you 
are prepared, I would advise you to begin your journey. We 
can easily overtake you in the course of a few miles, and it is 
pleasanter traveling in the morning than in the heat of the day." 

This proposition vras made by Louis, because he was 
anxious to keep a little behind the main party. He dreaded 
to come near Mariquita, yet he was resolved to see her 
through the dangers of the journey — and — and — he did not 
care to confess his further resolves. 

The Spaniard, pleased at the prospect of such available 
company, promised to do as recommended, and to be on the 
way in less than half an Jiour. The agreement being com- 
pleted, and the hunters receiving from the chief an intimation 
that the green-corn was boiled, accompanied by a very dirty 
squaw, proceeded to their breakfast. 

Louis had not turned for one glance a^ the beautiful face 
which he knew looked out from the lodge' so close — so close 
to him. In something less than an hour after, he was follow- 
ing in the rear of the large party of Wachitas who had 
mounted and armed themselves to continue as the escort of 
the whites. Senor Pedro D'Estanza — for so he had given his 
name in return for the information solicited by the inquisitive 
Buell — rode in the advance ; by his side was the Yankee, and 
a little in the rear, the only woman of the party managed her 



THE CAVALCADE. 47 

spirited Mexican pony witli skill and ease. About, on eveiy 
side, rode his dusky body-guard, while, despite the impatience 
of his jet-black stallion, "\;^diich was unused to so craven a 
position, the young hunter lingered many yards behind. 
Two or three times, Sefior D'Estanza rode back to challenge 
him to gay conversation, and to invite him to a place in the 
front rank, but the hunter retained his reserve and his deter- 
mination to remain in the background with such evident 
obstinacy, that the good-natured young gentleman finally gave 
up the attempt to make a companion of him, and left him to 
his thoughts — just then not the most agreeable companions 
nor the most safe. Louis had given Buell a sharp warning 
not to mention any name but that of Pitkins, or to give any 
hint of his previous acquaintance with the Spaniard ; but he 
did not feel entirely easy when he saw the unbounded loqua- 
city of his Conneciicut friend. However, not even Buell 
knew him by the name of Grason ; he passed as IVIr. Louis 
with him. Neither did the Yankee know enough of his ante- 
cedents to betray any thing of real importance. Louis still 
wore the wild locks of Indian hair ; but he was aware thaft 
they formed no particular disguise, and he did not dare trust 
himself any nearer to the woman of whom he had become, 
thus curiously, one of the protectors and guides. 

He rode as one in a dream. The full sunlight of a lovely 
June day, the fragrance of the morning air, the beautiful 
valley, the picturesque group of half-clad Wachitas, all seemed 
to him like parts of some unsubstantial vision, the " baseless 
fabric" of which floated before his eyes like the phantom of 
a mirage, or the ghosts of a sph'it which would not be laid. 
His gaze was fixed much upon the round, light figure of the 
horsewoman, riding in advance of him. Her thick braids of 
hair gave back a purple-black brilliance in the sun ; her figure 
so light, yet so exquisitely graceful, seemed to gather dignity 
from the ease with which she sat upon her horse ; several 
times she turned her head and gave a curious, inquiring 
glance at the white hunter who persisted in being so unsocial. 
On those occasions, Louis had a fair look into the face of the 
beautiful false one ; the flash of those bright, steady eyes, 
struck to his inmost soul. He watched her keenly. There 
was, upon that sweet face, an unmistakable sadness — a shad-e 



48 ' THE TWO HUNTEHS. 

of a present sorrow. Either she was worn and fatigued with 
her long, perilous journey, or else some personal experience 
had wrought a change in features and form. The once ex- 
quisitely rosy countenance had less color ; its wonderful 
vivacity had almost entirely disappeared ; a dark line was 
clearly drawn under the eyes ; her form was thinner, though 
it still retained Mariquita's matchless grace. He thought he 
should like to hear her cough — that little, sudden ripple of 
music which used to delight him so ; but, although Buell had 
-taken up a position beside her, and was endeavoring (as was 
evident from his grimaces and his own twanging laugh) to 
make himself amusing, he did not once hear the old, joyous 
burst of mirth. On her thin lips may have lain a momentary 
smile, but it was only momentary, for the expression of pain 
would not be banished. 

In the mean time, the sun rose high toward the zenith, 
blazing down fiercely upon the wild cavalcade, whose knives 
and rifles flashed beneath its rays, as they wound along at a 
decreasing pace. They had left the valley, and, after a few 
miles of hot and arid plains, were glad to enter a defile made 
by the bed of a creek, now dry. Here the atmosphere was 
cooler, for along-side ran a low spur of the mountains, not 
much more than a blufl", but wooded, and throwing a grateful 
shade across the rough 'trail. The whites were informed by 
the Indians that water, fresh and pleasant, was to be found 
four or five miles in advance ; and at that spot they were to 
take their mid-day repose and refreshment. It was so near 
the village of the "Wachitas, and on a path so well known, 
that our travelers felt as if the real dangers of the journey had 
not yet begun. If they met the Comanches at all, both the 
Indians and the whites supposed it would be a hundred miles 
further on toward the head-waters of the Red river — up which 
their -trail led. 

A little before noon, they reached the promised water, and 
fou»d it a clear, cool rill, gushing out of the rocky side of a 
blufl" which was here broken crosswise by a gully or ravine, 
admitting the delicious liquid to a free path. Inexpressibly 
refresliing did this fountain prove, as only those who have 
traveled in parched and arid regions can appreciate. ^ breeze 
also blew down from the mountains, urged along the horizon 



THE CANOl^. 49 

to the sontli ; the air was like liquid sapphire, and so exhil- 
arating to breathe, that even Louis could not resist its inspiring 
influence. Here the whole troupe alighted ; the animals were 
watered, and, while a portion of the men took their noon 
meal, the rest were cautioned to keep a good look-oat up 
and down the canon to give warning of any approaching 
strangers. 

The Wachitas ate the parched corn and jerked meat which 
they had brought with them ; but the Spaniard brought forth 
from the panniers of one of the jack-mules the necessaries for 
a comfortable meal, and a bottle of wine, which he put in 
the brook to cool. He then, again, urged Louis to join his 
party ; but the latter, eating his crackers and dried bufialo- 
meat, at a distance, under a tree, briefly, but firmly, rejected 
his polite attentions. Buell was not so churlish ; he did jus- 
tice to the viands with an appetite sufficient to represent his 
friend as ^ell as himself. His relish for food was as keen as 
his relish of a good bargain. 

A pleasant bit of shadowy ground, -with a rocky wall behind 
it, close to the water, had been selected for Mariquita. She 
laid aside her hat, bathing her forehead in the rill, and then 
sipping her wine and nibbling at the bread and fruit which 
Senor Pedro placed in her lap, while she listened, with "a ftiint 
smile, to the endless chatter of the Yankee. Louis sat where 
he could watch her every motion, while the broad sombrero, 
kept closely down over his own face, prevented the possibility 
of her recognizing him. 

" Thank 'ee, I don't care if I do," said Buell, stretching out 
his tin-cup for another draught of the precious wine, while 
his gentlemanly host could scarcely repress a shrug of con- 
tempt at his piggishness ; " I hain't had nothin' of this sort for 
some time, and it's quite refreshin'. Tell you what, stranger, 
I've an idea — a whoppin' big one — which is nothin' less than 
buyin' up a few tiiousand acres down South here, somewhere, 
plantin' a vineyard, and goin' m^' the wine business. I've 
no doubt it would pay better'n gold mines. What d'ye 
think ?" 

" Have you had any experience cultivating the grape, or 
in manufacturing the wine ?" 

" Law, no ! not yet. But that'll make no difference 



50 THE TWO HimTEKS. 

* 

whatever, not the least. I can learn the hull science in less'n a 
month. But, good gracious me ! what's the matter with 
friend Louis ? Ain't he a-makin' signs to us ?" 

Just then, it seemed as if the breeze had died away, as if 
the sun stood still, and a deadly rest and lull was upon every 
thing. Looking up at Buell's exclamation, the j^oung Spaniard 
had just time to see him throw up his arm with a warning 
gesture, then catch his gun, and run toward them. 

" An ambush !" he shouted. . 

At the same instant, the crack of a dozen rifles resounded 
from the bluff above them, and the smoke curled up from 
every little bush which grew along the edge. Several of the 
Wachitas leaped into the air, with yells of fear or pain, and 
then fell to the ground, some of them wounded. None of the 
whites were injured. Owing to their position, close in against 
the rocks, their assailants, from their position overhead, could 
not aim at them. Louis rah across the intervening space and 
placed himself close to Mariquita. Senor D'Estanza's rifle 
was instantly in his hand; and Buell, also, despite his whim- 
sicalitj'-, cool and courageous in the face of danger, had his 
gun, and was looking savagely about him for something to 
shoot at. As he lifted his head, he thought he saw something 
directly above him, over the edge of the ravine ; he fired, and 
a Conianche came tumbling over and fell at his feet. " Here, 
yeou pesky cowards ! what yer creepin' off for ?". he yelled, 
as the Wachitas, who had escaped the effects of the first 
volley, began to spring onto their animals and beat a hasty 
retreat homeward. *' Come back, here, you rascals, or you'll 
all be shot, every one of you. Don't you see you're ridin' 
right into range o' their bullets ? Draw up, here, clost to the 
rock !" 

Some half-dozen of them heard and obeyed him ; the rest 
made off as fast as they could urge their horses, followed by 
another volley from the ledge above, and exulting yells, as 
twx) or three of them reeled and finally toppled from their 
animals. 

" Press as close to the rock as you can," hurriedly said 
Louis to the frightened girl, who had sprung to her feet, and 
was clinging to his arm, evidently without knowing what she 
did. 



THE AMBUSH. ^^ 



She obeyed; and in less than half a mmute had so recovered 

her self-possession, as to cry out : ., i 

" Pedro, give me one of your revolvers. I can use it, and 

will, if necessary." i •. • +^ 

Louis took a revolver from his bosom, and pressed i into 
her hand Her eyes flashed with sudden brightness, and ber 
cheeks glowed as she looked up into tHe bushes along the 
led-e Suddenly she raised the weapon and fired. The re^ 
pon was answered by a yell of agony from above. Instead 
of admiring her courage, Louis stared at her excited face, mut- 
tering to himself : 

" It is her mother's murderous nature ! 
But there was no time now for a lover's speculations. Such 
of the party as had escaped the first fire were m a more ad 
vantan-eous* position than their enemies, who were obliged to 
look over the edge of the ledge in order to obtain a sure aim- 
while those on guard below were ready, with raised weapons 
To fire at the first protruding head. As long as they couM 
maintain excessive vigilance, and each party ^•^;^^^^^i^;;;/^ 
present position, the whites felt comparative y safe. But they 
had reason to dread a sortie, through the little ravine ; hough 
this was so narrow that not many Comaiiches could make 
their appearance at one time. , ^ , ,, a r^nc? 

A season of quiet soon followed the first assault A posi- 
tion requiring such a constrained watch as that ot the whites 
oon grew excessively wearisome. Their business it wa to 
keep incessant look-out for the least motion overhead ; whfie 
the Comanches could withdrew from the ledge --^^'^l^^^l 
selves, and consult at leisure. Louis' eyes were fixed upon he 
ravine for he anticipated a dash of the enemy out of that, 
when they found themselves unsuccessful in their attack from 
Ibove He conversed with Buell without moving his gaze 
frcm the narrow gully through which the water trickled at his 

^""^^ Rally those cowardly Wachitas, if you can, Buell and 
let them creep this way, ready to resist, if the enemy should 
breakout in this direction." 1,^,1 >nld 

<'Darn their copper-skins, they ain't wuth a bad cold 
in time o' fight. I'd as soon have ^^^^^^^^f^/^^;^". 
Here you red-skinned rascals; crawl along thar and 



52 THE TWO HUNTERS. 

make ready to p'int np that gully with them pop-guns 
o' yourn. Oh, plague take it ! I didn't tell you to 
stop lookin' overhead at the same time. Of course you've 
got to keep guard o' them bushes. A feller that can't look 
two ways to once, isn't worth a cuss on an occasion like this! 
You ought all to be cross-eyed ; then, mebb^, you could toe 
the mark. Crawl along, I say, careful now, or — " but the 
Yankee stopped talking, long enough to fire his rifle, for, just 
then, he saw a gun softly thrust over the rock behind a clump 
of bushes. 

The two pieces seemed to explode at the same second of 
time ; and, although there was a yell from the clump of bushes 
w^hich told that Buell's shot had taken effect, for once he was 
a littlie too late. Another cry burst from another mouth, and 
Mariquita, forgetting her own danger, sprung forward, and 
threw herself upon the body of Pedro, who had fallen forward, 
wounded, if not killed, by the Comanche's ball. Instantly 
half a dozen shots were fired at the girl and the fallen man, 
who had come into range of the rifles above. 

"For God's sake, come back!" cried Louis; but as his 
words were not heeded, he, too, stooped forward, and, with an 
unusual effort, dragged Mariquita and her friend back against 
the ledge. The crack of more rifles followed this movement ; 
but he had been too quick for them. 

" Are you huj't ?" he asked the girl. 

" I believe not. I do not think I am. Pedro ! Pedro ! 
speak to me !" 

The Spaniard had fainted, or was dead, it was impossible 
to tell which. She pulled his head up to her knee, covering 
the white face with kisses of anguish. 

" He is dead. Pedro is dead !" 

The accent of despair with which she spoke these words 
proved that she had some real feeling for this friend of hers, 
whether or not she had ever had any for that Louis whom 
omje she had seemed to love so truly. An emotion, half tri- 
umph, half pain, pierced Louis, as he gazed at them botli. 
His rival was dead. But no ! he saw a faint quiver of the 
ej^elids ; and, at that sign of life, the native generosity of his 
soul asserted itself; he crawled forward to the ravine, and 
reached a handkerchief into the water, to moisten the lips and 



A CIIARGB. 53 

forehead of the wounded man. As lie did so, he saw a 
shadow on the opposite wall of the gully, and comprehended 
that the Comanches were dropping themselves into it, prepara- 
tory to a sudden raid upon the party when they should be 
absorbed in watching for an attack from above. He flung 
the handkerchief to Mariquita, and, with one gesture, told the 
story to Buell, who succeeded in making his allies, the 
Wachitas, understand what was expected of them. 

It is not likel}'-, by the way, that the red cowards gained 
much benefit from his former lecture, as, in his excitement, 
he forgot his Mexican-Indian lingo, and spoke the most 
nasal Connecticut. They now, however, seemed better to 
comprehend his silent gestures, and four or five of them, with 
Louis and himself, stood ready, wilh reloaded rifles aimed at 
the mouth of the ravine. Scarcely had they completed these 
brief preparations when a wild, sudden, horrible yell deafened 
their ears, and about fifteen or eighteen Comanches burst 
from the gully, brandishing their weapons, and expecting to 
annihilate the whole party in the first surprise of this grand sortie. 

The narrowness of the gully was such, that but two could 
emerge at a time ; when, although, they followed each other 
as rapidly as possible, they were met by a well-directed fire 
from weapons already aimed. So effective was that reception 
that full half their number were killed bj'- it. 

The others were so astonished, and their courage so broken 
by this turn of the battle, that they took to flight. They 
could not return the way they came, for they had dropped 
themselves, by their hands, into the ravine, and could not 
climb back, so they M^ere forced to fly across the very path 
of tlie defending party. In this attempt to reach the mesa 
above the canon, where they had- left their horses, two or three 
more fell, one, at least, from the revolver of Louis. 

By this time the young hunter had grown too excited, even 
for prudence ; and, shouting to Buell to " come on !" he 
dashed out into the open space, where, all this time, the 
frightened animals had mostly remained huddled together. 
Leaping on his own horse, which, fortunately had escaped in- 
jury, he dashed up the bluff, at the first accessible place, fol- 
lowed by Buell, and three or four "Wachitas, whose courage 
hud visibly grown now that the enemy was in full flight. 



54 THE TWO HUNTERS. 

The Comanches M'-ere already on the wing ! 

" Hurrah ! after them !" shouted Louis. . " Lay them low — 
give no quarter !" 

" Hooray ! Scat ! Git eout ! See them go it ! I'm with 
you, my friend !" echoed the Yankee, and they set off, at top 
speed, after the retreating band of cut-throats, which still 
twice or thrice outnumbered them, but which, according to 
modern parlance, had become " demoralized " — mere " copper- 
heads " under ban. Whenever our party came near enough 
they halted and fired at the flying enemy. Several of the 
Comanches were observed to act as if wounded, though none 
fell from their animals. They were all, as usual, splendidly 
mounted, and they made good speed along the level table, or 
mesa, endeavoring to reach the shelter of the more rugged 
path, which led into the mountains not many miles in ad- 
vance of them. 

The black steed of Louis was a match for the best of the 
Comanches. His blood was up, and so was that of his mas- 
ter. On, on they flew long after Buell and the Wachitas had 
given up the chase. Several times the white hunter approached 
near enough to fire his revolver at the laggards of the party, 
who, although they flung themselves behind the shelter of 
their horses' sides, and fired at him from underneath, did not 
succeed in injuring him or his animal. He had, however, the 
satisfaction of disabling a brace of them ; and, finding himself 
alone, with the shadows of the mountains lengthening about 
him, and the way growing less open, finally desisted from the 
chase. 

He rode back at a more leisurely pace. The sun was in 
the west, the air cool, when he drew rein again in the 
little spot which had been the scene of so bloody a con- 
test. 

" Ho ! I began to reckon you'd concluded to jine the 
Comanches," sung out Buell, as he came within ear-shot. 
"'"You've had a nice time, all to yourself, I suppose. How 
many more did you pick ofi"? A couple ? Good for you, my 
accomplished friend? You'll be famous, if you keep on. 
Thar' can't be a white man scared up that has kill.ed as many 
Comaiiches in one day as you. Purty well, for a new begin- 
ner. Wal, we needn't give ourselves any more concern about 



THE RECOGNITION. 55 

that tribe o' Injuns, They'll fight shy of us, for the rest of 
our journey." 

" How's the Spanish gentleman ?" asked Louis, in a low 
voice, springing from his horse, and casting a look at the 
group by the brook. 

" Seems to be dyin','' answered Buell, for one instant look- 
ing serious, " and that gal of his does take on dreadfully. I 
feel mighty sorry for her, I tell you." 

In his wild race Louis had lost both his hat and his Indian 
hair. Thinking nothing of this, in the present crisis, and, in- 
deed, indifferent what turn the tragedy now took, he approached 
the couple. 

Buell — who, with his novel life-experience, was no mean 
surgeon, so far as his means went — had done the best he 
could for the wounded man, who now lay, silent, and scarcely 
bi-eathing, his head on Mariquita's lap, his eyes closed, while 
she, tenderly supporting him, gazed at him, as if all that was 
left of earth, for her, she saw slipping from her there. She 
did not even look up when Louis approached, and, kneeling 
by her side, anxiously examined the countenance of the dying, 
to find if any thing could yet be done. 

" At least, he suffers no pain," said Louis, at last, softly, 
hoping to convey some consolation by this assurance, for the 
pathos of her grief had affected him with a strange sympathy, 
instead of triumph. At the sound of those words, spoken 
gently, Mariquita looked up wildly ; their eyes met, hers 
fixed in mingled terror and rapture — her lips parted ; she 
struggled to speak, but only a low sigh escaped her ; and she 
sunk forward until her head rested on the bosom of Pedro. 



CHAPTER VI 

WOMAN INHUMAN. 

A FEW months after Louis Grason's disappearance from 
St. Louis, a singular occurrence took place in the city of New 
Orleans. We have said, in a former chapter, that a cloud of 
dark rumors enveloped the family of Madame Mora. This 



56 THE TWO HUNTERS. 

cloud was growing blacker and blacker ; the lady received 
several intimations from unknown sources that an investiga 
tion of the house and premises was soon to be insisted on 
Her daughter had but lately returned to her, having stayed in 
St. Louis all summer ; and now she had again sent her away 
— for there was one tender place in madame's heart which 
w^as kept soft by her pretty Mariquifca ; and, however bold a 
ftice she might have put upon her own peril, she did not wish 
her child to be involved in it. So Mariquita was returned to 
her aunt. 

As Madame Mora is a historical personage, whom, other- 
wise, w^e should hardly venture to introduce into our pages, 
we will give a few glimpses of her former life, as it was after- 
ward learned by the curious, when the storm of excitement 
following her exile had somewhat subsided. 

Some thirty years ago, a Spanish gentleman, of immense 
estates, residing near Lisbon, fell in love with a peasant-girl 
whom he saw first engaged, with others, gathering grapes in 
his vineyards. Her beauty was striking, but it was more the 
influence of her powerful mind and will, than of her personal 
charms, that so wrought upon the haughty Don, as to make 
him eager to offer her the honor of his hand in wedlock. He 
was a widower, of n^iddle age, and without children. The 
peasant-girl saw, in his infatuation, not the charm of a lover 
who won her by the fervor of his passion, but an instrument 
to be used for the furtherance of her ambition. 

Mariquita had alv\^ays been noted, among her own associ- 
ates, for a pride which looked down on her equals. Not a 
young peasant of the country, handsome and talented as she 
was, had dared to offer her a share of his humble fortunes. 
Lovers she had, who adored her all the more desperately, 
because they also stood in awe of her, who kept their distance, 
and " never told their love." . Her high temper made her a 
discomfort to her parents ; she always wanted, more fineiy than 
they were able to afford her ; and though they were vain of 
her gifts and her beauty, they often sighed that she was not 
less liandsome and more tractable. 

When the gentleman, the owner of the estates upon which 
they worked, approached her with some trifling professions, 
which other girls of her class received from him with great 



THE ENCHANTRESS. 57 

pleasure, ho was made, at once, to feel, how infinitely she 
scorned any such advances. Mariquita's heart never troubled 
lier ; her disposition was selfish and calculating ; she knew 
that her brow was fine enough to adorn a coronet, and when 
she saw the Don hovering about her, like a moth about a 
candle, she resolved to singe his wings, so that he could not 
fly away at pleasure. She succeeded in enchanting him to 
the point of begging her to become his wife. Despite the sur- 
prise and remonstrance of his family, who were horrified at 
this outrage upon the honor of their " blue blood,'* he actually 
married the peasant-girl, making her the lady of his castle. 

Mariquita was quick to catch the outward graces of refined 
life ; she really made a splendid, imposing appearance at the 
head of his table, or reposing in her silken chair in his draw- 
ing-rooms. Her hauteur was equal to the real article ; her 
taste in dress magnificent, and her beauty, thus carefully 
brought out, superb. Her new relatives had nothing to com- 
plain of in her conduct ; she forced a sort of respect from 
them which it pleased her husband to ' see. l^evertheless, he 
was not so happy as he had expected to be. His young wife 
did not seem to feel that pure, artless aflection which he had 
hoped for, in choosing' a " flower from the field" to bloom on 
liis bosom. On the contrary, he felt the hardness of her 
nature, which wore upon and wounded his sensitive and really 
gentle soul. 

At the end of a year Mariquita presented him with a fine, 
healthy boy. As he had never had children by his first wife, 
his pleasure was the greater now ; he felt grateful to his wife, 
aad trying to overlook the faults of her character, grew once 
more happy and gay as in the month of his honeymoon. 

Alas ! his happiness, of which he was so worthy, was very 
brief. When Mariquita recovered from her short illness, she 
resumed her life of enjoyment and display with more eager- 
ness than ever ; her little son was scarcely remembered by 
her ; and her lip would curl when, at times, she found the fond 
father, in her chambers, playing with the infant. Among the 
summer guests at the Don's chateau the season following the 
birth of the child, was a young gentleman, gay, witty, and 
of an age to attract the liking of the young woman Who had 
married for position and not for love. This gentleman, too, 



58 THE TWO HUNTERS. 

was rich and of good family ; he sung and played the guitar 
well, and knew how to pay delicate attentions to the lady of his 
host. Mariquita was discreet about showing her preference 
too openly. A strange uneasiness grew in the bosom of her 
husband. He lost his air of almost youthful gayety, which had 
come with the birth of his boy, and grew moody, wandering 
about aimlessly from the nursery of his babe to the walks 
and gardens where Mariquita lingered with Alonzo. 

But, his forebodings did not long trouble him ; all his 
care and aiixiety, his love and hope, came to a sudden stand- 
still ; his restless heart stopped, in the midst of its fevered 
pulsations, never to go on again. One languid summer day, 
after a light dessert of fruits, wines and cakes, partaken of 
with his guests, the master of the chateau became suddenly 
ill ; before sunset he was dead. 

The physician believed thali he died of cholera ; the fright- 
ened guests fled from the place ; the grief-stricken wife was 
begged to leave the fatal spot, but clung, with touching fidelity, 
to the plague-infested chtiteftu, and was rewarded for her devo- 
tion by no other case of the malady occurring. She played 
her part well. Two or three of her husband's relations were 
deeply dissatisfied ; but, no strong suspicions were entertained 
by others, until, within three months of the death of the first, 
there began to be rumors of a second husband — the handsome, 
youthful Alonzo. Then the relatives began to speak boldly 
forth their belief, and the tide of opinion grew deep and 
strong ; when, (it having been decided to disinter the corpse 
of the Don for the purpose of ascertaining if he had been 
poisoned,) it swept her off her feet, and compelled her to flee 
to a foreign country. The friends of Alonzo persuaded him 
to resign the contemplated match ; and in a rage of mortified 
pjission, and fear of the consequences of her crime, the woman 
gathered up all the moneys, jewels and available funds,- and 
secretly fled, with the child and its nurse, to the United States. 

Doubtless she would have left the infant behind, if she had 
not regarded him as the powder to secure, in future, the pos- 
session of his father's estates ; for, that she hated the boy be- 
came constantly- more evident. 

This strange sentiment of a mother's heart was caused, per- 
haps, by the torture inflicted on her guilty conscience, reminding 



ANOTHER VICTIM. - 69 

her, as' he did, of that murdered man, into whose image 
he grew more and more. Coming to New Orleans, she bought 
a handsome place, and lived, under an assumed name, in great 
retirement, her disappointment at being obliged to leave Spain, 
and the isolated nature of her present life increasing, week by- 
week and month by month, the natural cruelty of her disposi- 
tion. 

After a residence of a couple of years in her new home, 
she met a Creole gentleman, in one of her promenades, which 
she almost daily took, followed by the nurse with little Pedro, 
who was struck and conquered by one glance of her beautiful 
face, as she chanced to raise the vail which she always wore. 
He managed to be introduced to her. Her history seemed 
fair and open ; she was a lady, a widow, rich and prudent ; 
she lived in the seclusion becoming one who had no relatives 
in the country to shield and introduce her ; her child was 
charming, a high-spirited, graceful little creatui'e, showing 
" good blood" in every feature and motion. 

But, if all these things had not appeared so fair, Sefior Mora 
would have been helpless to resist the fascination of the beau- 
tiful widow. In return, he was .immensely wealthy, and 
resembled, in personal appearance, that Alonzo, for whom, of 
man onl}'', she had felt any affection. 

She married the senor. In the course of time came a 
daughter. The little Mariquita was like her mother in looks; 
and the mother's self-love reflected itself in some way in 
loving the child. «. Besides, she fancied it was like Alonzo. 
The little girl possessed, really, that contrariety of gifts which 
we sometimes see ; she was like one parent in form and 
features, modified, of course, by the expression, and like the 
other in heart, in character. She had the gentleness, the 
deep capacity for affection, of her father. 

The fonder Madame Mora became of her daughter, the more 
bitterly she hated little Pedro. He grew so distasteful to her, 
that her passionate dislike would break out in blows and 
cruel, undeserved punishments. Senor Mora, who tenderly 
cherished the brave and noble child, could not endure this ; 
finding that his wife made no attempt to control her outbreaks 
of hatred, he caused the child to be sent to a widowed sister 
of his own, until of an age to be trusted to the tender mercies 



60 TECE TWO HUNTERS. 

of a boarding-school. Madame made no objections to this 
arrangement. All she desired was for Pedro to live as much 
out of her sight as possible, until the change of events should 
make it prudent for her to return with him to Spain to claim 
his father's estates. Always hoping for that time to come, 
she kept herself carefully informed of all that occurred in her 
native place. 

Whether there was something blighting in madame's home 
atmosphere ; whether the fiict of living in daily association 
with a grasping and vicious nature like hers, was fatal to a 
delicate organization ; whether a dreadful consciousness of 
her true character grew upon him and bore him down ; 
whether she purposely persecuted him, or whether the natural 
tendency of his constitution to consumption was hastened by 
these influences, was never fully decided by the gossips. It 
was known that madame's second husband went rapidly into 
a decline, dying when his daugliter was two years of age, 
after a lingering illness, quite diflerent from the sudden agon- 
ies which took* away the first. 

After this -there was no restraint upon Madame Mora's 
vicious mind. She continued her secluded life, making up 
for the want of other excitement, by exercising her ingenuity 
in rendering her household unhappy. Little Pedro was sent 
twice or thrice, on a brief visit, to his mother, during the j^ears 
of his early boyhood. From these visits he always returned 
to his aunt, pale, silent and depressed, slirinking from any 
allusion to his mother, but wild, eager, raiiant, when talking 
of his dear little sister, his pretty little Mariquita. 

It seemed, as he grew older, as if he might even be willing 
to endure the unpleasant companionship of his mother, for the 
sake of being near his sister ; but this she gave him no invi- 
tation to do ; and presently Mariquita was sent away to the 
North, to a convent, to be educated. 

It might seem that madame, loving her daughter so, would 
scarcely forego her society ; but she was shrewd enough not 
to wish her own habits to pass under the revision of those in- 
nocent eyes. She felt a vague yearning for the child's respect, 
feeling herself unworthy of it. 

In the mean time, after Senor Mora's death, she kept back 
even the allowance made to Pedro for his support, so that 



HATING AND HATED. 61 

he was thrown upon the charity of his aunt. The boy was 
proud and talented. He brooded over all that he remembered 
of his infancy, over his mother's harshness and injustice, and 
all the vague stories sometimes whispered in his presence by 
unwise relatives or loquacious, slaves. He, somehow, came 
to the conclusion, that his rights were better than hers to the 
property withheld from him,. and he once ran away from 
school, and made a journey to New Orleans, to tell her so, 
and to threaten her with legal investigation if she did not do 
him justice. There was a fine scene between them. But the 
boy was resolute, and carried his point. When he came 
away, he had the title-deeds to a handsome sugar-plantation in 
Louisiana, and to what the madame, doubtless, considered 
worthless mining interests, away off, as the property was, in the 
distant region of New Mexico. With these was a sum in 
gold s,ufficient to lift him above the necessity of taking means 
from others to finish his education. 

From that interview the two had parted more unreconciled 
than ever. The boy was old enough to understand much of 
what he saw, and to return his mother's dislike with detestation. 

Before he returned from this runaway expedition, he paid 
a visit to his sister in her northern retreat. It was a conso- 
lation to him to know that she was with the dear good sisters, 
and not with Madame Mora. 

Several years passed. At every vacation Pedro did not 
fail to visit his sweet, dear Mariquita, who loved him so much, 
that she declared the only part of her life that she really lived 
was these weeks when he was near her and permitted to see 
her daily. Finally, Pedro lel^ college and began the world 
for himself. He took possession of his sugar-plantation, put 
it in better order, and then, restless and troubled by the re- 
ports which came to him. of his mother's course of life, feeling 
himself under a ban, he made up his mind to take a long and 
difficult journey to New Mexico, more for the purpose of 
diverting his mind than to look after his interests there. He 
was hastened into this resolution by receiving a private letter 
from Spain which let a flood of light upon his mother's past 
history, and which advised him, as soon as he was of' age, to 
cross the ocean and establish his rights to the properties now 
held by his late father's relatives. It would still be a year 



62 THE TWO nUNTERB. 

before lie was of age, and he resolved to spend that time on 
a trip to Santa Fe. 

During his farewell visit to Mariqnita he spoke more open- 
ly than he had hitlierto done, of their mother's strange perse- 
cution of him, and expressed a hope that his sister would re- 
main in the convent until his return. He could not poison 
her innocent mind with the story of madame's baseness ; yet, 
he could not forbear a mysterious warning, which, should the 
young girl herself have cause to suspect her mother, would 
then recur to her mind and be understood. 

Before the year of his absence was over, Mariqnita was 
taken home. She did not stay there long ; but it was long 
enough for a consciousness of something sad and wrong to 
depress and chill her. She was too quick-sighted to be kept 
in ignorance. The wretched woman was receiving a part of 
the reward for her evil deeds, in the fact that she could not 
indulge herself in the innocent society of her own daughter. 

There was growing, too, through New Orleans, the mutter- 
ing of an earthquake of indignation, which threatened to over- 
throw the foundation of her terrible home. Madame Mora 
began to consider the wisdom of a second flight. In the 
mean time, Mariquita was sent to St. Louis to another sister 
of Senor Mora's to be disposed of in marriage to the first 
eligible suitor. 

After the disaster which terminated her visit there, she was, 
for a short time, again with her mother. But the shadow of 
coming vengeance rested on the house, and she was sent away 
from possible harm to the aunt with whom Pedro had been 
reared. • 

Shortly after followed the popular outbreak which resulted 
in madame's exile. The cries and groans of her tortured 
slaves had filled the air too full to be "longer kept within the 
limits of her house and garden wall. They were heard with- 
^©ut, and even in that city of slave-whipping posts and pillo- 
ries, could not be borne by an indignant people. The eyes 
of many a black child, and of its parents, too, for that mat- 
ter, dilated with awe and terror, as it listened to the stories 
whispered about, of tortures endured by the slaves of the 
handsome madame in the handsome house. 

One wild and rainy night the firemen of New Orleans 



FLIGHT. 63 

raised a great cry of fire. It must be in the square wliere 
was situated madame's house, for toward that they made their 
way, with rattling of engines and hose, and excited shouts. 
The people looked in vain. No light of conflagration was to 
he seen. The firemen dashed up in front of that walled-in 
mansion. They rattled at the garden gates. It was evident 
that, if madame's property was on fire, they were bound to 
save it for her. Madame looked down at them, through the 
shutters of an upper window. She heard their fierce shouts, 
and saw them pouring through the gates which a slave had 
at last grown bold enough to unbar, against her bidding and 
at theirs. That simple act betrayed the truth. Her reign of 
tyranny was over. She knew that her house was not in 
flames, and that the cry of fire. was but to cover a conspiracy 
of those bold fellows to break into her premises and examine 
for themselves into the truth of certain reports. She knew 
that when once they had seen all, her life would not be worth 
a feather in their hands. She had brief time to prepare for 
flight Filling her bosom with jewels, snatching a purse of 
gold, she flung about her a long cloak, and flying down a 
back stair-case, out upon a secluded garden-path leading to a 
small door in the rear wall of the flower-garden, she gained 
the street, as the mob broke, yelling, into the mansion. Along 
the dark and muddy paths, through the heavy rain, down to 
the levee, to a spot where she had noticed the flag of a Span- 
ish ship fluttering, that afternoon, in the damp air, she made 
her way ; on her knees she begged the captain to take her 
aboard, ofi"ering him a large reward ; and in that mean and 
dirty little merchant-vessel she remained concealed, sailing 
with it, and that was the last that was known of Madame 
Mora in New Orleans. 



CHAPTER VII. 

THE SAD NIGHT-WATCH. 

Amos Buell was in his element — or, more properly, as 
the old lady said, in his " elements," for he was equally at 
home in all of them, and if the world could have been resolved 
into its origmal gas, perhaps he would have been still more 



64 THE TWO HUHTEllS. 

perfectly at home. To be doctor, nnrse, surgeon, housekeeper, 
cook, purveyor, chambermaid, and director-general of a small 
force of assistants, was a combination of " situations " calcu- 
lated to call forth his best resources. In these circumstances 
he found himself, about sunset of the day of the battle with 
the Comanches. The few Wachitas who had not fled, and 
who still were able to perform duty, were set to gathering fire- 
wood from the mem above, to attending their wounded breth- 
ren, corraling their horses, and keeping guard, 

Buell had a small camp-kettle, which belonged to the trav- 
eling equipments of Senor D'Estanza, on the fire, over which 
he was fussing like a genuine French cook. He had found 
Bome savory herbs in the grass of the mesa^ and with these, 
and the limited stock to be found in the commissary depart- 
ment, he was concocting a soup of delicious odor, while the 
coffeepot gave forth a ravishing aroma. Every two minutes 
he would leave his station by the fire to run up to the group 
by the rock, and take a new obseiTation, to assure himself that 
they were getting on as well as circumstances would permit. 

Mariquita had recovered from her swoon, and was sitting, 
pale and almost as quiet as marble, by the couch which had 
been improvised for the sefior, out of a buifalo-skin and a 
pair of blankets. The senor's symptoms were slightly more 
favorable. He had roused from his insensibility, and now 
breathed with some ease, while his pulse had rallied from its 
feeble, imperceptible motion, to something like a genuine beat. 
With plenty of stimulants and the best of care, it seemed 
possible that he might yet recover. A small bottle of the 
choicest brandy, which was found in his portmanteau, now 
proved of great service. Louis, kneeling by him, at brief in- 
tervals, gave him a small spoonful of this, diluted with water ; 
he constantly bathed his forehead, chafed his hands, or fanned 
him with a sombrero. 

Not a word had the young Spaniard spoken to Mariquita, 
and this it was that chilled her into that unnatural silence, 
despite the joy she ought to have felt at the faint prospect of 
her f -iend's life being saved to her. Presently Buell approach- 
ed, for the twentieth or thirtieth time. He had a basin of 
soup in his hands, which he offered, with a profound bow, to 
the young girl. She shook her head, declining it ; but when 



A BURPKISE. 65 

she attempted to utter a word of thanks, her lips quivered, and 
she burst into tears. 

" There, neow, you'll upset me "and the soup, too, if you go 
for to do that," exclaimed he, and he actually drew forth a 
red bandana and rubbed his eyes in sympathy. " 'Tain't no 
use lettin' trouble spile your appetite. You oughter be thank- 
ful for the change which has jist taken place, and which, under 
Providence, I take the credit of, my dear, I'm a nateral-born 
doctor, you see, and kill more'n I cure. That is, I've killed 
three Comanches, and now I'm bound to cure one fine young 
gentleman. He'll git well — you may bet on that — and now, 
if you want to keep up your strength to nuss and tend on 
your husband, you must eat. We eat to liv«, and we can't 
live without. I made this soup on purpose for your ladyship, 
and if you don't recommend it, I shall be dissapp'inted. It's 
light and nourishin'— jest "What you need — and with half a 
pint of strong coffee, will kee]^ you up all night, if you want 
to watch with him. Say, neow," he added, coaxingly, " try a 
little, won't you ?" 

She reached forth her hand for the basin, and attempted to 
swallow a few mouthfuls, to please him. He watched her, 
wistfully. 

" Oh, don't give it up so. If you'll eat every drop o' that, 
I'll promise to feed some to your husband before midnight. 
It'll do him good." . 

*' He is not my husband ; he is my own dear brother," said 
Mariquita. 

She did not see the start Louis gave when she made this 
assertion, nor the wild, sudden, piercing look he fixed upon 
her ; her eyes were cast down, and the great tears were rolling 
over her cheeks. 

" Such duplicity seems incredible," was the mental com- 
ment of the man who had once loved her with such entire 
and sudden faith. 

" Pley ? you don't say so ; your brother ? I thought he was 
your t'other half. Wal, neow, really, and you ain't married 
at all, perhaps ?" burst forth Buell, this new view of the case ' 
exciting his ready interest. 

" No — oh, no ! I have no mother, no father, no friend, no 
relative in the world, except him — my dear brother He will 



66 THE TWO HUNTSRS. 

die, and leave me here, on this wild plain, friendless and un- 
protected. Ah, I wish that I could die, too !" She uttered 
this complaint, as if it was wrenched from her heart, by that 
cold and cruel look of the man who knelt by her brother's 
side. The utter despair of countenance and voice was too 
much for the soft-hearted Yankee ; the red bandana went up 
to his eyes again. 

" I)oif}^t talk in that style, my dear young lady, or you'll 
have me a-blubberin' in less'n a minute. Do you think we 
are savages and Comanches ? Don't say you have no friends. 
Tm your friend. I swear to you, if your brother dies, I'll 
never leave nor forsake you, till you're safe to the place for 
which you set out, or back in the States. I'll be a brother to 
you, and so will Mr. Pitkins. No sister shall ever be treat- 
ed more respectfully. Good Lord ! don't you know the stuff a 
genewine American gentleman is made out of? He couldn't 
hurt a woman who was thrown%n his purtection ! he couldn't 
let her travel without 'tendin' to her wants. He gives her the 
best seat in the cars, the shady side of the deck, carries her 
Cfirpet-bag, holds her baby, lends her his umberrella. I don't 
doubt, if he was called on, he'd make a bridge of himself for 
her to walk over the gutter. And, my gracious ! if he found 
a woman, unpurtected — a lady — 'way out West, in a savage 
country — alone on a prairie, I don't know what Le wouldn't 
do for her ! His feelings would be too much for him ! his 
heart would melt down like butter in the sun. There's one 
thing he'd do — he'd fight and die for her," cojicluded the quon- 
dam le<Sturer, savagely, glaring around as if to see if there was 
any occasion for doing it just then. His emotions had carried 
him away on a stream of unpremeditated eloquence. 

There was no mistaking Amos Buell's sincerity, through all 
tjiis bombast, and the poor girl forced a smile to reward him. 

" There, that looks more like it ! And don't you go to 
talkin' no more about bein' friendless. I've got an old mother 
to home would be tickled to death to let you live with her, if 
the wust comes to wust. But HaiiyJt comin' ! — ^I tell you, that 
man's goin' to git well. The awkward part of the business is, 
he won't be fit to move for a fortnight. We're in for it, no 
mistake. We've jest got to camp out, and take it easy. But, 
don't you fret about tlmt. I'll show you how a Yankee can 



BITTER MOiTENTS. 67 

keep house out-o'-doors. If we only had a few comforts for 
the sick man, I shouldn't mind it a snap of my finger. How- 
soraever, there ain't no ^ evil without its good. This pure, 
healthy air will do more to set him on his feet, than the best 
. doctor in New York city. If everybody's patients couW be 
nussed out-doors, there'd more of 'em git well. Come, now, 
eat up your soup, and say if I ain't a right smart cook." 

Mariquita ate the soup, to gratify him. 

" If I were hungry I know it would be delicious," she said, 
as she returned the basin. 

" You'll have some cofiee ?" he asked, anxiously. 

" If you please." 

He hurried back to his kettles, delighted. 

Then, when the lady was served, Louis must sup ; then the 
wounded Wachitas must have some soup, and, with all his va- 
rious cares, the "chief cook and bottle-washer" worked him- 
self into just the hurry and excitement which he liked best. 
Before the long, rosy, soft twilight deepened into night, every 
thing was arranged to the best advantage, men and animals 
fed, two Wachitas placed on guard, with Dick on the outer 
picket-line, as surest to give alarm in case of. any stealthy ap- 
proach, the weapons all looked to, loaded, and ready to hand, 
and the camp established. Then the two white hunters and 
the woman set themselves to keep the watch, with the large 
stars glistening overhead, and the soft gurgle of the rill drown- 
ing the light sound of the senor's feeble breath. Mariquita 
steadily refused to lie down, or to sleep. Whenever Louis 
stole a glance at her, he saw her bright, dark eyes fixed on 
the face of the sufierer. So brief were the summer nights, and 
so intense the luster of the heavens above those southern plains, 
that a pale radiance, like that of dawn and moonlight blended, 
shone all through the hours, giving sufficient light to read the 
changes in the patieiJfe's countenance. He slept the greater 
part of the time ; whenever he awakened, his glance sought 
the face of the girl, and finding her close by his side, meeting 
her look of love, he would close his lids and sleep again. 

Bitter were the emotions which swelled in Mariquita's bo- 
som through those oppressive hours. She knew that the life 
ojf Pedro hung by the slenderest thread ; for, grateful as she 
was to the kind hunter for his assurances that he was out of 



68 THE TWO HUNTERS. 

danger, she placed just enough confidence in them to keep her 
hopes from going out entirely. It seemed so strange to her, 
to be sitting there, within three feet of Louis Grason, whose 
presence should have filled her with joy, and a sense of safe- 
ty--<with happiness unutterable — only to feel more desolate ^ 
and wronged than she had ever felt before. 

From the history given in the preceding chapter, the reader 
knows, what Louis does not, of the relations between her and 
Pedro. That she should have been engaged to Louis, and 
yet never have mentioned to him that she had a half-brother, 
may appear strange. But all the incidents of her life were 
strange, and this was of a color with the rest. When she 
went to St. Louis on that visit to her aunt, she had begun to 
realize, with vague awe and unhappiness, that something was 
wrong in her own home — to distrust her mother. She re- 
called, and partially understood, those intimations which her 
brother had given her before he first set out for Santa Fe. 

When we remember how brief was the period of wooing, 
how really strange to each other in all the outward relations 
of their lives, the lovers were, it is quite natural that Mariquita 
should have shrunk from confiding to her betrothed the un- 
pleasant portions of her family history. She could not tell 
him of her brother, without letting him know of the strange, 
unnatural antipathy between him and her mother. She could 
not bring herself to speak a word of doubt of her own mother. 
If she had known her mother's true history, she would never 
have married without telling it all to her afilanced. But, 
knowing nothing positively, and not guessing half the reality, 
she only felt oppressed by a vague sense of evil, which she 
could not explain, and had, therefore, no means of confiding. 
From every unpleasant foreboding she flew to .the light of 
I<puis' love, nestling there jn sweetest consciousness of safety. 
However, she had fully purposed to'ji^ill him of Pedro, and 
^that a warfare existed between her brother and parent ; once 
or twice within that last momentous week she had sought an 
opportunity for a quiet conversation with her lover ; but none 
had occurred, when the day came upon which Pedro, return- 
ing frojQi Santa Fe by the northern trail, unexpectedly pre- 
sented himself in St. Louis. He. had sent a note to her aunt's 
house, announcing his arrival, and begging her to keep it a 



BROTHEB AND SISTER. 69 

secret from their aunt, as he had communications of the great- 
est importance to make to her alone, and did not wish his 
mother to suspect but that he was still far at. the West. He 

desired her to meet him at his boarding-house on B street, 

where he could talk with her, uninterrupted by others. 

She hastened to meet him. A.fter the first affectionate 
greetings were over, the brow of Pedro began to darken ; he 
looked vexed and unhappy as he strode back and forth through 
the narrow limits of his apartment, biting his lips, and glanc- 
ing doubtfully at his sister. At last he sat down by her, took 
her hands, and said : 

" Mariquita, our mother is totally unfit for you to live with. 
I heard truths about her, when I was in Santa Fe, through a 
friend of my dead father's, who came on there from Spain, 
which horrified me. I knew that she was cruel, selfish and 

malignant ; but I did not know that she was a what 

she is. I could not rest, when I thought of you, my little 
sister, under her guidance, loving and trusting her as a mother. 
I resolved to perform' the wearisome journey back to the 
States, to ask you to fly with me, where we shall never hear 
from her, or see her, more. The reason I wish to keep my 
return a secret is this : if I should take you with me, she 
could reclaim you, as you are not yet of age, and I know that 
she would leave nothing undone which her wicked imagina- 
tion could invent, to torment if not destroy me, and to recover 
you. My purpose is to start immediately for Spain. I shall 
be of age by the time we reach it, and shall take steps to place 
myself in possession of estates there, which will make me a 
grandee, little one, and enable me to burden your pretty brow 
with as many jewels as it can bear. My father, Don D'Es- 
tanza, left immense estates, which are now claimed by his 
brothers. But I am the rightful heir. I understand, now, 
for the first time, why my mother has permitted me to live. 
She has hoped, some time during my minority, to take me 
back to Spain, and, as my guardian, to assume the control of 
my property. But years have rolled away, and the tide of 
public sentiment has continued so strong against her that she 
has not dared to take this step. Now, I suppose, since I am 
my own master, she will not care what becomes of me or the 
estates. Yet, for fear that, out of pure malice, she may try to 
81 3 



7t) THE TWO HUNTERS. 

obstruct me, I would rather that she should kuow nothing of 
my movements, until I am across the water. Hence this se- 
crecy. What say you, little sister ? "Will you share my for- 
tunes ?" 

Stunned by vague fears, and consciousness of some great, 
unspoken guilt on her mother's part, yet loving and clinging 
to her as a parent, Mariquita sat, bewildered and unhappy. 
That fine evidence within us, which can not be gainsayed, as- 
sured her that her brother spoke the truth — that he was right, 
and her mother wrong. She began to weep ; but when Pe- 
dro pressed her for an answer, then, with bright blushes, whose 
warmth dried her tears, she made to him confession of her 
betrothal. 

A little disappointed that he could not take his beautiful 
sister to grace his Spanish chateau, Pedro yet loved her too 
unselfishly to be sorry to hear of her great happiness. He 
questioned her closely of the character and position of her 
lover, and was well satisfied with her answers. 

" I would like well to stay to your wedding, little one, but 
I hardly think I will. Madame Mora would be sure to hear 
of my presence, and I think I will carry out my original plan, 
minus, my sister. Now, however, that I think twice of it, 
since you are not to be my company, I believe I will return 
to Santa Fe, and defer my excursion to Spain until next sum- 
mer. I am in no haste, since you are provided for ; and — to 
tell the whole truth, Mariquita — the Spanish gentleman I 
spoke of, as at Santa Fe, brought over with him a certain 
sweet young. Donna, who might be persuaded to take the trip 
with me. She would like to see her native Spain again, I 
dare say. I did not think so much of her bright eyes till I 
find I have lost yours, little sister. Now, I must compensate 
■myself It's the way of the world, I suppose." 

Mariquita laughed, kissed him, and hoped he would be 
very successful in" winning the bright eyes to shine ujDon 
him. 

" But what shall I say to my Louis about all this ?" she 
asked, growing suddenly serious. " I would like him to see 
my brother — you know I am proud of you, Pedro." 

" Are you, little witch ? I will see him, and love him, 
some time, but not now. I advise you to say nothing of 



LOSS OP A LOVER. 71 

family matters to your lover imtil he becomes your husband. 
They are too dark, and there is no use in shadowing your sun- 
shine at present. - Let them rest. All will be right in the end." 

This was bad advice, and given by Pedro because he had 
never loved, and did not understand how love forgave and 
covered all things, turning darkness into glory ; but Mariquita 
had unbounded confidence in her brother, and at once resolv- 
ed to obey him. She felt as if it would be easier, when she 
W^as Louis' wife, to throw herself on his bosom, and whisper to 
him all that she wished to say. 

The brother and sister spent the afternoon in such talk as 
is sweet to those who love and are about to be parted ; then, 
as the sun set, he suddenly realized how close and warm his 
room was, and proposed a walk in the twilight together, 
through a part of the city distant from her aunt's residence. 
The two w^alked out together; neither had partaken of any 
supper, and they stepped into the little suburban refreshment 
saloon, at the end of their promenade, for some cream and cake, 
and to prolong, yet a little while, the hour before parting ! 

Pedro was not to leave the city until ten the next morning ; 
and before that time had received a note from Mariquita, 
written in great distress, informing him of the disappearance 
of Louis Grason. 

"When Louis did not come to breakfast, the morning after his 
disastrous mistake, his aunt felt troubled, for he was so regular in 
his habits, that any departure from them was noticeablF.^' It 
chanced that one of his cousins called early on Mariquita to 
consult about some of the bridal finery, and there she learned 
that Louis had not made his expected visit the previous even- 
ing. The young lady knew that he had left the house en 
route for that of his betrothed, and she immediately grew 
alarmed. "What could have become of him ? 

When the bride saw her grow pale, her color, too, fled ; 
each looked in the other's face in doubt and perplexity. 

" I will take a stage and go to papa's office ;" said Miss 
Grason. 

Mr. Grason was alarmed. He lost no time in inquiring at 
every possible place after his nephew. In the mean time, 
Mariquita wrote the note to her brother, who resolved to wait 
over a day until Louis was heard from. 



73 THE TWO HUNTERS. 

Louis was never heard from. No tidings rewarded the 
growing, anxious search. Day after day fled — still silence, 
fear, distress. Who shall attempt to paint Mariquita's agony, 
and despair ? — the long period of suspense, of trembling, 
wretched hope and fear, followed by the cold, qniet certainty 
that he was lost to her. Rewards were offered, and every 
eifort made both by the relatives and the police. A nine 
days' excitement reigned through the city. It was the gen- 
eral opinion that the young gentleman had been robbed and 
murdered and his body thrown into the river. Louis' father 
and mother came on. At the end of a month they put on 
mourning. Ah, if he could have foreseen the misery his 
action caused he would not have been so selfish, even if his 
own happiness had been ruined. 

Pedro gave up all his plans, to remain with and comfort his 
sister. He would not leave St. Louis as long as a ray of hope 
lingered. 

In the fall she went back, for a brief visit, "to her mother, 
and from thence to the aunt who had brought up her brother. 
Pedro had advised her to act discreetly toward Madame Mora, 
since she was not ready to pliace herself under his protection, 
feeling that a short stay under her mother's roof would not be 
so injurious to her as to provoke the fierce woman's jealousy. 
It was not the proper season of the year to attempt the trip to 
Santa Fe ; in the mean time, the sister was to spend the time 
chieHy with the aunt, taking care not to offend Madame 
Mora, nor to give her a hint of her determination to go 
with Pedro, either West or to Spain, if nothing were heard of 
Louis before the spring. Pedro returned to his sugar-planta- 
tion, his own plans having been laid aside, in order that he 
might watch over Mariquita, and do what he could to restore 
her shuttered happiness. For, to a nature so impassioned as 
{liis young girl's, in whose veins ran the sunny blood of Spain 
and the Creole ardor, a bereavement so sudden and complete 
had proved nearly fatal. It was Pedro's iove and sympathy 
more than any strength within herself, which upheld and 
saved her. 

Then came that public scene in the di-ama, when Madame 
Mora fled ignominiously before the mob, and her house and 
garden w^ere desecrated and torn to pieces by the hands of an 



HOW IT CXME ABOUT. 7S 

infuriated populace. For they found abundant evidence of 
the stories afloat — tliey opened the room of torture, where, 
even then, a female slave, young, and soon to become a 
mother, was expiating in a punishment which we will not 
describe, some imaginary offense — and they dragged and scat- 
tered through the street tlie ropes, chains, racks, crosses and 
thumb-screws and bars of iron. 

The news of this frightM affair fell like fire on an open 
wound upon the sensitive, haughty spirit of Pedro ; it was 
more than he could bear ; he fretted under it in silent wrath 
and shame. Selling out all his property in Louisiana, he 
placed his affairs in condition to leave the country forever, as 
Boon as it would be practicable to take Mariquita with him. 
His plan was to return to Santa ,Fe, dispose of his interest in 
the mines there, mariy the Spanish donna, and return to his 
native land, never to leave it again. The ftir, wild, and novel 
journey, he believed, would act beneficially upon his sister, to 
restore mind and body from the shock they had received. He 
made successful efforts to keep the cause of his mother's 
flight a secret from Mariquita, for he was afraid of the conscr 
quences of such shame upon one already heart-broken. 

Thus it came about that they were where they were, and 
that they had crossed the wandering track of Louis Grason. 

When Mariquita, looking up from the face of her brother, 
at the sound of that never-to-be-forgotten voice, beheld Louis,, 
alive, well, in tJie body^ before her, she swooned in excess of 
joy and terror. When she rallied, only to realize that he had 
been near her pU day without making himself .known, that 
he must have recognized her from the first, yet purposely held 
himself aloof, that he regarded her now as though he knew 
her not, a new numbing pain, worse than the old grief, palsied 
her heart. 

He was alive — had been living — had given no token of his 
existence ; hence it was evident that he had purposely aban- 
doned her. In the midst of her trouble and loneliness he did 
not soften toward her, did not extend the shelter of those 
arms within which was her rightful place of rest. Almost 
his wife !— in the scant amount of baggage which their mode 
of travel permitted, she had insisted upon room for that un- 
worn bridal vail and dress which she had kept sacred to the 



74 THB TWO HUNTERS. 

memory of the man who now sat beside her like a Btranger. 
Slie was bewildered and benumbed, as she sat, through the 
starlight night, clasping Pedro's nerveless hand. 



CHAPTER IX. 

A TRIAL OP SPEED. 

Morning brought a renewal of activity to Amos Buell. 
He permitted Louis to serve as aid-de-camp, but he was the 
ruling spirit. There were several things to be accomplished 
in order to make the prospect of camp-life more endurable. 
The bodies of the dead were to be dragged away and buried. 
A mule and three or four Wachitas performed this duty. Then, 
upon investigation, it was found that all the wounded Wachitas 
were able to bear transportation back to their village, which 
was but half a day's journey. These were hurried oflF, escort- 
ed by the well ones, who were to see them safely home, and to 
return the following day, with such poor supplies as their 
miserable settlement afforded — dried meat, green-corn and 
other vegetables, salt, powder, etc. They were also instructed 
to kill, if possible, some game on the way back, that fresh 
meat might be had to make broth for the wounded Spaniard. 

Four Indians remained to do such service as was required, 
principally to act as scouts and guards.* This part of the 
business being disposed of, and the cavalcade of wounded 
Wachitas having moved slowly away, Buell turned to his 
friend with a chuckle of satisfaction. 

" Mighty glad to get rid of them patients. Don't love to 
nuss red-skins, though I s'pose they're humans, like the rest 
of us. Now we'll be nice and quiet — have the snuggest little 
camp here, ye ever saw, before noon. FixStly, we'll fix up 
some kind of a tent over that sick man ; we'll make it big 
enough to keep the sun off him and that poor gal. I'll set 
them lazy Injuns to cuttin' three or four poles ; and I guess 
we can raise a couple o' blankets extra. I'm willin' to do 
without mine." 



QUININE. 75 

" How do you think tJie senor seems, this morning ?" asked 
Louis. 

" He promises well. I reckon he'll hold out. But it's like 
he'll have a raging fever afore night. If I only had a little 
quinine, now, I'd snap my fingers at the fever, though." 

" We'll have to depend on hydropathic treatment — we've 
plenty of cold water." 

" Yes, and it's a blessin' of the first quality. I've put lots 
o' patients through that course. I like to see 'em squirm. 
But I'd give a good round sum for a few doses of the reg'lar 
Peruvian bitter jist now." 

*' Perhaps the seiior has a medicine-chest." 

" There ! that's the idea 1 Why didn't I think of it. Go 
and ask the gal, Louis." 

His friend did not understand with what reluctance Louis 
performed this commission. He had not addressed Mariquita 
directly, during the night. Kow that fate had thrown them 
together under such circumstances, it was evident that some 
sort of communication must he established. Still believing 
her guilty of the worst inconstancy and duplicity, regarding 
himself as the wronged party, he steeled himself against the 
pity and passion which he felt. To treat her as a stranger 
was the only course to which he could trust himself. In the 
attempt to be simply indifferent, he overdid the thing ; his 
voice was like ice, when he approached, asking — 
— " Madame, if she knew whether there were any medicines 
among the senor's stores." 

The dark eyes were lifted to his with a gaze as full and 
cold. 

" Yes, there was quinine. She would find it." 

He took her place, while she went to the luggage in search 
of the medicine. The sick man's eyes fixed themselves search- 
ingly on the hunter's face ; he seemed to wish to speak, and 
Louis bent his head close to his lips. 

" If I should die, be good to her. She is rich and can 
repay any trouble or expense. But you look like a man of 
honor, and it is to your honor that I trust her." 

" She will be safe with us, and protected as if she were 
our sister. Don't excite yourself over such thoughts, senor. 
We are going to make a well man of you." 



76 THE TWO nUI^TERS. 

" Do you know, I liked yon, strangely well, from the first 
moment I saw you. I love you already ; you are very good," 
murmured the sefior, 

Louis^ placed his hand over the patient's mouth, shaking 
his head — 

" You must not even whisper to-day. Be quiet — that is 
all we ask of you." 

Yet the Spaniard's words affected him curiously ; this man 
whom he had hated — ^he could not hate him now, that he was 
so helpless — had returned this feeUng with an involuntary 
love. Something in the declaration touched him deeply ; he 
resolved to atone for his past hatred by the assiduity with 
which he would watch and tend this enemy of his. Mari- 
quita he despised — but was the sefior to blame ? 

There was time and opportunity to put his resolution to 
test. Many days of doubt followed upon the first. The 
patient hovered between life and death. Unwearied care was 
constantly required. Buell and Louis kept wateh alternate 
nights ; the girl, wearing thinner and paler, always at her 
post, except when she snatched an hour's repose during some 
quiet sleep of the sick man. During that trying period the 
attachment of the senor to Louis became hourly more- 
apparent ; he preferred his presence and assistance to any 
other, even Mariquita's. The similarity of the ages of the 
two young men had something to do with this ; there was 
the sympathy of youth between them ; then Louis was strong 
and gentle, tender and firm, one to rely on, while the sensi- 
tive sufferer was constantly worrying lest " his sister " should 
over-exert herself. 

Strange it was, yet Louis grew accustomed to hearing the 
two address each other as brother and sister, yet was still 
persuaded that it was a fiction kept up to cover some other 
relation. Hardly strange, either, when we consider from what 
stand-point his view was taken. If Mariquita had a brother, 
^ would he not have been aware of it ? Thus they dwelt under 
a cloud of misapprehension, which one ray of truth might at 
any moment have dissolved into nothingness. Destiny 
hurried them along to the final crisis, from one blunder to 
another. 

No outside occurrence disturbed the monotony of their long 



THE PATIENT. 77 

bivouac. Through the mdefatigable energy of Buell, every 
kid which the country or the climate could afford was brought 
to their assistance. In that isolated region no traveler passed. 
The Coraanches, never returning to ascertain what became of 
the companions they had abandoned, had betaken themselves 
to other exploits in other fields. That solitude which presses 
human souls together, closed about the little camp. The 
invalid formed the central point of interest ; all else revolved 
about him. Patient, weak, grateful, gentle, he lay, slowly 
consuming with fever, against which youth, an unbroken 
constitution, pure air, and constant nursings enabled him to 
hold his ground. The girl, eilent, sad, worn, apparently wholly 
absorbed in care of her brother ; Louis, attentive, discreet, 
untiring ; Buell, active, restless, cheerful, humorous ; with the 
four lazy Indians whom he scolded and drove into excellent 
servants, who provided wood, kept guard, and went on errands 
to the distant village, as well as kept the animals in provender 
— these formed the company. 

A great want was felt of fresh meat, as they were now in 
a portion of the country where game was scarce, and the fier^^ 
summer season coming on, making it still more so. The grass 
was withering up on the mesa, and the only palatable water 
for a great distance in any direction, was the little rivulet 
which trickled from the rock, to cool and refresh the camp. 
The Wachitas had been out hunting two or three times, but 
had returned empty-handed ; as Buell conjectured, they were 
so afraid of Comanches as to have lingered near the camp, 
making a feint of having been off in search of buffalo and 
antelope. An antelope and several birds had been shot, on 
the ground, at different times, as they approached to drink of 
the water, but the supply thus obtained was precarious. 

" I wish to goodness I had somethin' to make broth of to- 
day," exclaimed Buell to Louis, at nearl}'- the close of the 
second week. " His fever's broke at last — clean gone ! His 
skin is cool and moist, his ^es natural — but he's powerful 
wea"k. He must be fed up, op kept up, some way, or he'll 
sink, as sure as shootin'. Thar's plenty o' rice, but that hain't 
got the constituents in it to make blood. If I had four 
or five pounds of nice, juicy beef, I'd be fixed. Buffalo- 
steaks would do for tea — or birds, on a pinch. I believe 



78 THE TWO HUNTERS. 

I'll send two o' them Injuns to the village to buy a cow ; but 
they can't get back with her before to-morrow night, and time 
is valuable. One of us had better start off, and see if 
something can't be scared up." 

'* Oh, let me go," cried Louis, " it will rest me to get 
away from camp a little while. My horse, too, is suffering 
from want of exercise. I'll take a swoop across the plain, 
and be back, before night, with something." 

" Better take an Injun or two with you. The Comanches 
might gobble you up, and nobody ever be the wiser." 

" I'd like to know how much good a Wachita or two would 
do me. No, thank you, I prefer to go alone. My confidence 
is in my steed. I shall avoid the mountains, as there I might 
fall into an ambuscade, but on Tempest's back, on the open 
plain, I defy the whole horde of red-skins. I'd like a race 
with a thousand of them." 

The sun was just rising when Louis mounted his horse and 
rode away. 
^ "I can't bear to let you go, even for such a little time," 
murmured the pale-faced senor, whose olive-skin had lost 
every tinge of a warmer color, and looked sickly and wan 
enough, as Louis had bent over him to say good-by for the 
next few hours. 

" I sally forth in your seiTice ; so you must not complain," 
was the gay reply — nevertheless the black eyes of the patient 
filled with tears as he looked after the strong, manly figure 
of his new friend. 

" Oh, that I could be well, like that, again," he sighed. 

With weapons in excellent order, a canteen of water slung 
at his belt, and enough provisions for his noon lunch stowed 
dn one of his pockets, Louis dashed up onto the table-land 
above the gully, just as the sunrise had turned the dew of the 
^- plains into a world of diamonds. Tempest was so full of 
spirits, after his long tethering, that in less skillful hands he 
would have been unmanag^ble. But to his rider it only 
added to the charm of the rfde, that the animal he bestrode 
was so full of life and power, that his nerves tingled resent- 
fully at the idea of control. Louis let him have his way, 
and he darted off like a bird over the level stretches. Solitude 
everywhere. The first hour not a sign of life was visible — 



COMANCHES. 7^ 

not a wing specked the blue ether, nor a foot tracked the 
parching plain. The hunter began to fear that game was not 
so plentiful as he had imagined. Checking his horse's speed, 
he rode more leisurely, to and fro, looking sharply in every 
direction. 

Presently he thought he descried, far away to the south, 
something moving along the horizon like a small herd of buf- 
faloes. They were between him and the encampment. He 
knew that it was rare, but not impossible, for these animals to 
be upon the plains at this season of the year, and conjectured 
that they were in search of water, in w^hich case they would 
be likely to run their necks into danger from the ready bullets 
of Buell, for they would be brought straight to the camp by 
that instinct which enables them to trace out the springs to 
their foundation. He rode a little to the east, so as to be to the 
windward side, desiring to come down upon them as unex- 
pectedly as possible. This could hardly be successfully accom- 
plished, as he would be in full sight long before he came in 
rifle-range of them ; but he expected, if he failed to overtake 
them himself, to drive them into the vicinity of the camp, 
where others would have a chance of a shot at them. 

Having got to the windward he urged his horse into a gen- 
tle gallop, sweeping gallantly down upon the supposed herd. 
Instead of breaking and running wildly from him, as he ex- 
pected, he was surprised to see it turn and rush directly toward 
him. 

Buffaloes! — hardly. He drew rein and gave a searching 
glance at the approaching objects, now growing plainly visible 
across the lessening distance. Comanches? — ^yes I all men, 
all well mounted and armed — a regular war-party ! And they 
had seen him, and were swooping down upon him with 
fierce exultation, certain that one white man's life should par- 
tially repay them for the mortifying defeat experienced a fort- 
night previous. 

As soon as he became assured of this disagreeable fact, Louis 
wheeled his horse, and sped away. Whither, he did not have 
the opportunity to decide. He only knew that the immense 
plain was before him, and the Comanches behind, and that 
they were between him and the little valley camp. 

" Now, Tempest, brave fellow, it is for you to decide 



BO THE TWO HUNTERS. 

whether I shall be a live or a dead man this day," he said, 
stooping and patting the superb neck of the haughty animal he 
bestrode. 

His trust was in his horse, for brave, even to recklessness, 
as he was, accustomed to all the dangers of his present mode 
of life, he had no faith in a personal encounter with twenty or 
more red devils, whose weapons, in all probability, were equal 
to his own, whose skill and endurance were proverbial. He 
had the advantage of a good start ; his one chance lay in the 
strength of his horse, which, should it hold out longer than 
theirs, would keep him in the advance, and enable him to out- 
run them, or tire them out ; but, should Tempest fail him, in 
his emergency, he knew well that his scalp would grace some 
saddle-bow before an hour had passed. Away, then. Tem- 
pest — do your prettiest. The horse's intelligence was some- 
thing marvelous. He had scented danger to his master, in 
the instant's pause before they changed their course. As if he 
recognized the enmity of the pack swooping toward them, he 
gave a short, shrill neigh of defiance, the trumpet-blast of battle 
which told that he was ready for the charge ; and, as his 
rider wheeled, and patting him, spoke as he did, he shot off, 
like an arrow from the bow, straight and swift across the level 
stretch. 

It was glorious, the ease and speed with which he flew away. 
Louis saw the earth glide beneath him like a sea, and felt the 
air almost cut his face ; he grew exhilarated with the rapid 
motion, his pulse and color rose, his eyes shone — he began to 
feel as if there was nothing under the sun more delightfully 
arousing and exciting than a race across the plains with the 
Comanches. 

_^ Onward galloped his horse, steadily and with such ease that 
the immense power he was putting forth was scarcely appa- 
rent. Occasionally Louis would half turn in the saddle, cast- 
ing a keen look behind him. There they always were, about 
the same distance in the rear, those red devils, hovering like a 
low cloud along the plain, neither failing nor gaining upon 
him. The trust of a Comanche warrior is in his war-steed : 
there were a score of animals behind Tempest, worthy rivals 
for the honors of the turf With the exception of an occa- 
sional gully to leap, there were no obstacles in the way. 



THE RACE. 81 

On went pursuers and pursued. The hot sun of June was 
rising higher in the heavens, though the morning breeze had 
not entirely ceased to blow. Mile after mile fled beneath his. 
horse's feet, like waves beneath an ocean-ship ; and Louis could 
not but think, through all the thrill of the hour, that he was 
riding further and further from camp, and, when the race was 
over, would have all that weary distance to retrace. No mat-, 
ter ; or, at all events, inevitable. This was a flight that ad- 
mitted of no deviation ; it was a trial for Lis life ; the question 
was, whether or not his scalp should give grace to the girdle 
of some exultant savage. 

Louis had persuaded himself that he was tired of life. Es- 
pecially during the strange, peculiar experience of the past few 
days — when, self-deluded into a causeless ' misery, he had 
watched the devotion of the woman he loved, to another, and 
had proven his own magnanimity by his gentle, devoted ten- 
derness to his rival — had he said to himself many times that 
life was an intolerable burden which he would gladly cast 
aside. But now, that these racing Indians were behind him, 
ready and anxious to relieve him of the load, he became con- 
scious that he was quite willing to carry it a little longer. 
There is nowhere so rapid a cure for such morbid fancies, as 
in an experience like this which was now testing his misan- 
thropy. Still, if he had had time to philosophize, doubtless 
the young gentleman would have persuaded himself that it 
was not a love of life which was at the bottom of his efforts, 
but a hatred of the Comanches ! It might be pleasant to die 
(under some circumstances), but pride and delicacy revolted at 
the thought of death at the hands of those painted devils ! 
So, Louis urged Tempest to do his prettiest as faithfully as if 
life were not a faded weed, only fit to be trampled upon. 

On went pursuers and pursued. Looking behind him now, 
Louis could perceive that he was gaining on the main body 
. of warriors, but that four of them had left the band in the back- 
ground, and were slowly, though steadily, gaining upon him. 
He had not believed there was a horse west of the Mississippi 
that could distance Tempest in a fair trial, yet those four more 
than held their own. 

Four ! well, four were less than twenty. Louis felt for the 
haft of his knife, and to see that his revolver was in its place. 



83 THE TWO HUNTERS. 

All right. He had carefully cleaned and loaded his rifle be- 
fore leaving camp ; all the barrels of his revolver were in 
order. Yet he knew that the creatnres behind him had, at 
least, good rifles ; and that they had the advantage in point of 
attack, as well as in numbers, by coming at him from the rear 
— also, that while engaged with them, even if momentarily 
successful, the rest of the band would have time to come up. 
No ! there was no use thinking of risking a battle. 

" Tempest, you must do better still. Bravo ! you do finel}^ 
but not well enough for this occasion," he muttered. " You'll 
hear their hoofs behind you in less than ten minutes, if you 
don't exert yourself, old boy." He chirruped to the horse, 
striking him smartly on the neck with his hand, half lovingly, 
half impatiently. It was well that a long season of rest had 
put Tempest in his best Condition ; he had been so fiery, when 
first mounted, as to be almost rebellious against his. owner's 
will ; now this large stock of fire and strength was to be drawn 
upon to the utmost ; with a low trumpet he responded to his 
rider's words, who could feel the thrill of his nerves through 
all that powerful frame, as with a longer, more magnificent 
bound he galloped forward. 

On went pursuers and pursued. The fierce sun began to 
beat down, until the plain seemed to swim in the undulations 
of the heated atmosphere. Two hours the terrible, unflagging 
race had been kept up. Louis turned again to look : the four 
red devils were close upon his track, but the rest of the pack 
were entirely lost to sight. It seemed that Tempest could hear 
the beating of pursuing hoofs, although they were inaudible to 
his rider, for the foam flew from his mouth, he rolled his 
blazing eyes back to take note of his enemies, bent neck and 
head straight forward, and pressed onward with tremendous 
bounds. As Louis turned his head, instantly all four of the 
savages disappeared behind their horses. They were already 
no^rr enough to notice his motions, and to put themselves on. 
the defensive, thongh they seemed not willing to risk a shot 
themselves, probably wishing to approach so close as to make 
sure of their aim. Knowing the peculiar method of their war- 
fare, the white hunter felt how hopeless it would be to attempt 
to destroy any of them, riding, as they were, in his rear, and 
able to make a bulwark of their steeds at any iustant. Still, 



A KEMINDER. 



83 



to wound or kill their horses would be as useful as to lilt the 
men themselves. His rifle was of the very best ; and, as the 
danger of a shot from them became more imminent, with a 
cry to Tempest, urging him on, he turned completely round in 
his saddle, his back to the horse's head, drew the weapon from 
his shoulder and took as quiet, deliberate aim, as ever he took 
in his life, the smooth, powerful gallop of the animal not at all 
hindering him. As he expected, each dusky form dropped 
from the^saddle, but his aim was at the breast of the foremost 
horse, which was hardly a length in advance of the others, so 
splendidly did the four ride on in the emulous race. Deliberately 
he fired, and, through the light wreath of smoke which jutted 
from his rifle's mouth, he saw the horse leap up, stagger, and 
fall. It did not appear that the three others gave even a look 
at their worsted companion— they only drove the goad into 
their animals' sides, and swept forward more threatenmgly. 
But Tempest was now at the very hight and crown of his 
power- he did not slacken, he seemed even to increase his 
speed and the maddened Comanches could not approach so 
as to return the fire. Louis would have fired again, but an 
instinct warned him to turn an4 see what was before him. He 
was not any too soon in this movement. Before him, crack- 
in- the parched earth of the plain, like the rift of an earth- 
quake, was one of those arroyas, or dry beds of streams, some- 
thin"- like that in which their camp was located, except that 
this was narrower, with perpendicular sides, while that of the 
camp was precipitous on one side only. This was more like 
a fissure made by the intense heat, than like the bed of a river, 
although, in reality, it was such a bed. Louis scanned it with 
alarm as he rapidly approached ; it was too steep down to 
think of descending or sheltering himself . m it, while yet it 
seemed too wide to venture a leap. However, there was no 
time for mental debate ; death certainly was behind, if not be- 
fore him He left it to the instinct of his horse. If Tempest 
declined the risk of a leap, then he would turn, dash suddenly 
toward his enemies, disable as many as possible, and die glo- 
riously, if alone. One thought of the past, and the future, one 
memory of Mariquita— he drew the reins firmly in, shouted to 
his steed, a cry like the blast of a bugle, and they were at the 
edge of the arrmja. The next instant he felt himself l)orue 



84 THE TWO HUKTKKS. 

throngli the air like one upon wings — tlie next, and with a 
light shock, horse and rider liad touched ground, safe on the 
far side of the ravine, and Tempest stumbled on, gallantly 
still, but as if the effort had shaken and weakened him. 

Again Louis turned to see the three Comanches hovering 
on the edge of the arroya. In vain they yelled and beat 
their horses ; the noble animals were wise enough to know 
themselves too much exhausted for this final desperate effort, 
and stood trembling and cowering, refusing to attempt it. 
Again the rifle of Louis resounded, -and another horse stag- 
gered and fell sheer down the bank, his rider just saving him- 
self by springing! from his saddle as he fell. This finished 
the chase. The dismounted savage took to his heels, and the 
two others, with a yell of rage and disappointment, wheeled 
their horses, picked him up, and rode away, leaving the field 
to the white hunter. 

While his enemies were receding in the distance, and he 
trying to realize the fact that they had abandoned him to vic- 
tory, Louis felt the sudden trembling and gasping of Tempest, 
who yet endeavored to stagger on ; he dropped the reins and 
sprung from the saddle. 

" Poor fellow ; noble friend I I'm afraid I've killed you,'* 
he murmured. 

With a shiver. Tempest sunk on his knees and threw him- 
self on his side. At first Louis feared he had broken a blood 
vessel in the strain of that mighty leap, but he soon satisfied 
himself that it was only extreme exhaustion. He looked 
about him. It was high noon. Cloudless, brassy, burning, 
the sky arched over them ; around them was the arid plain, 
not a tree for shelter, nor a drop of water for cooling. The 
master sat down beside the apparently d^dng friend who, had 
carried him through a terrible crisis. The gentle love in the 
half-closed eyes of Tempest touched him like a reproach. 

" What can I do for you ?" he sadly asked. " At least, I 
^ill share with you the morsel that I have." 

From the small — frightfully small — store of water in his 
canteen, he moistened the parching throat of his brute com- 
rade. Presently he dipped a ])iscuit in the water and gave it 
in morsels — then another, and a third — until but one biscuit 
and a meager draught of water was left for himself. He 



m TROUBLE. : 85 

drank the few precious drops, for he was very thirsty, and 
nibbling at his hard cracker stood up and looked about to find 
where he might be. He could see nothing but that stretch of 
arid desert. He had relied upon the Wachita mountains, as a 
landmark, to guide him back to camp. But either he had 
ridden an incredible distance in that mad race, or the hot, 
undulatory waves of the air, rising and moving like smoke, 
acted as a vail between him and the horizon — no mountains 
were visible, no distant grove of trees, promising water — he 
was lost in a fiery and desolate region, his faithful companion 
already overdone, and himself feeling severely the ejQTects of 
fatigue, excitement, and thirst. 

Even had he known precisely what course to steer, it would 
be impossible, should Tempest recover sufficiently to perform 
the journey, for the horse again to cross the arroya unless some 
more accessible point should be found, and to search for this 
might take them many wear}'' miles. 

Should Tempest die (and he resolved not to abandon him 
unless he did), then there would be a march of thirty or forty 
miles across the plains, to be taken by himself, with no likeli- 
hood of his coming upon a drop of water in all that distance. 
The very thought of these things parched his throat ; while 
above him, cloudless and cruel, the persistent sun shot down 
his pitiless arrows of molten gold. 

" Ay, Tempest, I'm afraid we're in trouble still," muttered 
the young man, sitting wearily beside his horse, after com- 
pleting his anxious survey. 



CHAPTER X. 

THREE DARK DAYS. 

"This is bad, Dick, monstrous bad I" spoke Amos Buell, as 
tlie sunset of that same day began to deepen into twilight. 

Man and dog had climbed the bluff, and were straining 
their eyes to search the horizon for some sign of the return of 
the friend who had left them in the morning ; the latter with 
ears pricked forward, and an attitude of solicitude every bit 



/ 

86 THE TWO HUNTEKS. 

as intent and intense as that of his companioctf' Scarcely the 
flying of a bird to its distant nest disturbed the solitude — that 
solitude of those vast western plains, so impressive in its 
majesty. 

" I don't know what's to be done," continued Buell, de- 
spondingly ; " it's too late to set out on a search, and ' time 
is money,' as I used to say when I was a-sellin' clocks to the 
farmers' wives. Somethin' serious has happened or he would 
have been hum hours ago. He's been gobbled up by the 
Comanches, sure as shootin'. "What's your opinion, Dick ?" 

The dog answered by a melancholy whine, which had also 
something reproachful in it ; for he had asked to accompany 
his master when he set out on his hunt, but had been sent 
back, much to his displeasure. Louis had intended to gallop 
far and wide, feeling the spirit of unrest upon him, and he 
had thought Dick might as well be in camp, doing duty there, 
as following his erratic path ; so had driven him back. The 
dog now reflected on this conduct, evidently fancying that if 
he had accompanied his master, no evil could have befallen 
him. Yet, if Dick, in his egotism, could have known it, he 
saved his skin, by staying behind ; he was no match for 
Tempest in a race, and would have fallen a victim to the In- 
dians, without doubt. 

" Or if he ain't," pursued the other, musingly, *' he's lost 
himself, which is about as bad ; for there ain't a thing to eat 
nor drink off" there, I'm afraid. It's been a hot day — a reg'lar 
scorcher ; and there won't a drop o' dew fall to-night. , The 
sky's as brazen as Kitty Jones' face, and the air as dry as 
Tim's gullet, when there's whisky 'round. I never felt more 
oneasy in my born days, or more unsettled what steps to take. 
I've took an uncommon likin' to that young man ; he's wound 
^himself 'round my feelin's like a bean round a pole — and, un- 
less I'm mistaken, that purty young lady down there's in the 
■ same fix. Hallo ! here she comes now ; didn't I tell you, 
Dick ? It don't take a telescope to find how the land lies in 
that quarter, as I used to say when I sailed a fishin' smack 
into Nantucket. Wal, seiiorita, it looks dubious." 

Mariquita had climbed the bluff and stood by his side, her 
large, bright eyes seeming to contract with the intensity with 
which she scanned the plain ; her cheek was deadly pale ; she 



ANXIETY. 87 

endeavored to appear calm, but her lips would tremble as she 
asked : 

" Do you see nothing of him ?". 

" Not the faintest twinkle of him, miss/' 

" What do you think has happened ?" 

Buell, whistling and looking sideways into the pale face, 
did not answer. 

" Do you think those terrible Comanches have killed him V" 
she asked, in a sharp whisper, laying her hand on his arm. 

" Laws, I hope not," with affected carelessness. *' He's lost 
his way, it's likely, or he's taken a freak to scare us, for the 
sake of givin' us a new sensation in this dull camp. He's a 
streaky fellow, full of his whims." 

A sigh broke from the lips of Mariquita — " full of his, 
whims " — perhaps his love for her had been a whim, his sud- 
den desertion, another ; she was the victim of his caprice. 
Why could she not scorn him as he deserved ? Why did she 
not hate him for his treachery ? Why, oh, God ! why did 
she still love him? She. asked herself these questions, still 
clutching the arm of Amos Buell, and staring off, eagerly, 
over the darkening plain. 

" What's that ?" she presently asked, pointing to the dim 
verge. 

" Sorry to say it's only a little cloud, miss. There ! you see, 
it is spreading — only a little cloud, that don't even mean rain. 
But you mustn't feel so troubled, my dear miss, indeed, you 
mustn't. He may come tearing into camp, any minute, and 
then we'll all laugh at our fright. He's plucky, Louis is, and 
if he made up his mind to game, he wouldn't come back 
without it, if he stayed till midnight. He means the senor 
shall have something nice for his supper," 

" Ah, yes ! it is for my brother he has periled himself. I 
can not forget that," murmured Mariquita. 

" They seem to take to each other, these two young men, 
as if they were brothers," remarked Buell. " I like to see it, 
when they're both warm-hearted. When men like each- 
other it's a good symptom. Yet, I'm a leetle sorry Louis 
went out to-day, since it's turned out so unnecessary. Them 
Wachitas brought that cow in, just in time. Lordy, but she's 
tough ! Howsomever, she'll make good beef-tea, for which 



88 THE TWO HUNTERS. 

we'll be thankful. 'Pears to me the sefior's better already. 
This is decidedly his most hopeful day. He's got nothin' in 
the world to do now but to eat, and get strength — easy busi- 
ness compared to what he's been at, senorita." 

" And he owes it all to you and Mr. Louis," cried the 
young girl, bursting into tears. 

" Fiddlestick ! s'posin' he does. I'll bring in a bill as long 
as a Texas per-rarie when I've got him cured — for board, 
lodgin', nussin,' medicine, and all the extras, if you go to bein' 
too grateful about it. If there's anything I can't bear, it's bein* 
thanked, senorita — please remember that. But I'm right, 
glad to see you cry. You've be'n too pale the last few hours 
— too much 'tension on the strings, ye see — and you'll feel 
better after you've had a good cry. It's as good as nervine 
tea." 

Dick rubbed his nose against her hand, attesting his sym- 
pathy. Now that she had once given way to her long-con- 
trolled emotions — emotions which had" been gathering for 
days — they were beyond her mastery. Sinking down behind 
the dog, she clasped him about the neck, laid her head against 
him, and sobbed as if the storm of excitement would never 
subside. Buell watched her in silence ; he was too discreet 
to interfere at first; but when" he thought she had cried long 
enough he sung out in his most good-natured voice : 

"Dick, you're a lucky dog! Jemima! I'd be willin' to be 
a dog myself, to have a purty cre'tnre hugging me like that." 

Mariquita quickly rose, half laughing and half indignant ; 
but the next moment her anxiety returned. 

" It is growing so dark," she said. 

" Yes — no use standin' here staring at nothing. We'll go 
back to our patient, and tell him the news. And, in the 
mornin', if Louis ain't on hand, I'll get out a search-warrant 
and get Dick, here, to serve it on him." 

They turned to descend the ledge ; the dog seemed very 
unwilling to accompany them, looking wistfully over the level 
stretch, and whming. The Yankee finally took him by the 
collar and led him into camp. Pedro was excited and 
restless ; so much so as to incur the risk of bringing back the 
fever; he continually lamented the absence of the young 
hunter, and the fact that it was to provide nourishment for 



WATCniNG. 89 

Mrriy that he had gone forth. His sister, who knew him so 
well — how affectionate, passionate, fervid were his feelings, 
and how warmly they had been bestowed on Louis — saw 
the necessity of controlling all eyidence of her own anxiety, 
and using all her power to tranquilize the x)a^ient. She 
succeeded so well, that after an hour or two he fell asleep, 
a gentje slumber which she felt was giving life to him. . 

None of the other dwellers in the little camp of the arroya 
rested that niglrt — unless it might be the sleepy Wachitas. 
It was the darkest night since that first one which had wit- 
nessed the formation of the camp. Now, anxiety gnawed at 
the hearts of those who feared for the fate of Louis, as they had 
then trembled over the critical state of Pedro. 

Buell, stalking here and there, vainly affecting to be at 
ease, while starting at every breath of wind or rustle of leaf, 
waited impatiently for the dawn, that he might begin the 
search. Mariquita, sitting inside the tent, listened too ; and 
when certain that Pedro was too profoundly at rest to miss 
her, stole out, and stood beside the door. 

" Why in the name of Sancho Panza don't you go to bed, 
senorita ?" he inquired. " Do you think it's going to do that 
young man any service, one way or t'other, for you to set up 
like a night-owl? 

" I am not sleepy, Mr. Buell," pleaded Mariquita, stepping 
toward him. " What do you propose to do about Mr. Gra- 
son, if he doesn't return by daylight ?" 

" Mr. who ?" queried- the Yankee. 

"I meant Louis, of course," said ihe girl, quickly. " See, 
there's the moon. It will soon be nearly as light as. day." 

" I s'pose you'd like me to start right off ' by moonlight 
alone,' as the song says. So I would, if I had any clue. But 
my only hope is to keep his trail, and the moonlight, though 
tolerable powerful, won't do for that, on that hard-baked 
ground. No, miss, I reckon I'm as sot to do what I can as 
you could wish, but ' the more haste the wuss speed,' is a fa- 
vorite proverb of mine. I should admire to start this minute. 
Providence permittin', but Providence don't permit." 

" How do you intend to proceed ?" 

" I shall go on horseback, with a good lot o' wittals, and as" 
much water as I can stow without lumberin' the ship. I 



90 THE TWO HUNTERS. 

shall take one o' them Wachitas along, and plenty o' gun- 
powder; and Dick, by all means, for I depend on that 
cre'tur' to keep the trail a good deal better than I could with- 
out him. Speakiu' of Dick, I'd lilce to know where in thun- 
der — begging your pardon, senorita — that dog is 1 Come to 
think of it, I hain't seen him the last two hours. I'll bet ten 
to one he's gone off on an independent search for himself. 
Dick !" whistling and calling, but no dog appeared. 

" May a wagon run over his tail, if he's served me that 
trick !" continued the speaker, very much . disturbed. " I 
relied on Dick. If he finds his master, he can't do him any 
good ; while if he stayed for orders, like a well-disciplined 
dog, he might have showed me the way. He's deserted the 
camp, that's dead certain ; he shall be tried by court-martial, 
and shot if I can catch him. So ! I reckon we'll have to 
get along without him." 

" Every thing goes wrong," murmured the girl. 

"Pshaw — mustn't say that, senorita. Some things are right 
— and some, left. If the young man should make his 
appearance to-morrow, safe and sound, and, hearing how much 
interest you had taken in his fate, should reward you with his 
hand and heart, I s'pose 'twould all be right, eh, senorita ?" 

" You know not what you-jest about. Such a thing would 
be more impossible than for the sun to fall — you must not 
speak so again, Mr. Buell." 

She said this so gravely and proudly, that the Yankee 
thrust his hands in his pockets, and puckered up his mouth, 
staring down at her half angrily. 

" Humph ! I forgot that she was a haughty little minx, 
heiress to ever so many gold mines, and the Lord knows 
what," he thought. " She reckons IVJr. Louis to be only a 
hunter, a half-savage, without name or fortune — as if any one 
.couldn't see, with half an eye, that he's high bred and high 
learned, and got a romance about him enough to set fifty 
girls crazy ! Gosh ! it's nigh upsot me ! I'd give my interest 
in Red river railroad shares to know what sent that young 
gentleman away from home, to rough it out here. I have 
done my purtiest to find out, but he's as close about it, as the 
lock is to a trunk," — adding aloud — " didn't mean no offense, 
senorita. We old chaps like to joke with the young folks. 



SLEEP. 91 

HoTVSumever, a lover like him wouldn't be sneezed at. He's 
as good as the best, I'm certain, if an5^body could only find 
out who and what he is. Somethin' mysterious about Louis, 
seiiorita. I guess he's been jilted, and is tryin' wild life to 
cure his disapp'intment. Don't you think there's some secret 
history of that kind about him ?" 

" Possibly— but what is that to me ?" 

" Oh, nuthin'. Only mystery usually makes a person more 
interestin'. I ain't ashamed to own I've tried to find out 
Louis' history. In fact, I've asked him, p'int blank, and he 
refused to tell m€. So, of course, there's somethin' wrong." 

Mariquita's heart beat wildly. Had the light been greater, 
her companion would have seen her agitation. 

«' I believe I will try to sleep, Mr. Buell." 

" That's a little more sensible. I'll try, also, to catch a 
nap ; then up, kindle a fire, cook a dish of coffee, pack my 
wallet, and off." 

She returned to the tent, w^hile he threw himself on the 
ground, with a leather-bag for a pillow, and in a few moments 
was asleep. Earnest to serve his friend to the best of his 
ability, he resolved, as a precaution against future fatigue, to 
take some repose, and for him to will a thing was generally 
to accomplish it. Thus he succeeded in taking a couple of 
hours' rest, despite his real anxiety. At the end of that time 
he sprung up, roused the guard, nodding as usual, and wiiile 
the Wachita whom he selected to accompany him w^as feed- 
ing' and saddling two of the best horses, he was making his 
breakfast, packing a bag with food, filling a leather-jug and 
two canteens with water, and loading his rifles. By the 
time the light had broadened so as to give them a clear path, 
Buell, and his follower, w^ere on the way. 

Mariquita came out of her tent to see them off. 

" I leave you Commanding-General of the forces, until my 
return," said the Yankee to her ; " you'll be lonesome here, 
but I hope you'll be safe. Keep them lazy rascals on the 
look-out against a surprise. I've loaded every weapon on 
the premises, and you must keep 'em nigh your hand. I 
know you're a brave girl, and can shoot a red-skin when 
it's necessary. So I'll leave you in the care of Providence 
— trust to luck, and Iceep your powder dry. That's right — 



92 THE TWO HUNTERS. 

don't cry. Take good, care of the patient, and dose Mm well 
with beef-tea. Hopin' and prayin' to return with good tidings, 
by sunset, or before, I bid you good-by." 

"With a flourish of his big hand, Buell rode away. Mari- 
quita ran up the ledge, and watched him as long as he 
remained in sight. Lonesome 1 He said truly that she 
would be lonesome, but he little guessed the terrible desola- 
tion which seemed to her to settle over the camp, as he 
disappeared. So helpless, so solitary, so deserted ! with only 
three thieving and untrustworthy Wachitas for her protec- 
tion — and Louis gone — forever ! 

" Forever." 

She whispered the word, looking about vacantly on the 
rosy sky and brown plain. She had thought that he was 
nothing to her but a reminder of injustice and cruelty ; but 
now that she feared some frightful fate for hini, there was 
a curious revidsion in her feelings. 

What if Pedro should die ? What if Buell never came back ? 

All dreary things seemed possible on that dreadful and 
desolate morning. 

She felt an impulse to rush off over the wide plains, where, 
or to what ending, she cared not — only to find refuge from 
this silent oppression. But thoughts of Pedro restrained her. 

Slowly she went back to the little valley camp. Slowly 
the slow hours rolled away. It was a day that prolonged 
itself indefinitely. She cooked little delicacies for the patient, 
and tried to find work to do. But all she could invent filled 
scarcely one of the endless hours. Many times, even in the 
heat of noon, she climbed the bluff to scan the plain. All was 
silence and desolation. 

But, if the solitude was dreadful by day it grew positively 
awful by night. For the red, fierce sun did at last sink ; the 
long twilight stole treacherously over the landscape ; the deep 
-niight came — to bring no return of those who had set forth 
that morning, neither of him who had rode away from them 
tlie previous day so full of health and ardor. 

Pedro fretted for " his dear friend," " his beloved Louis," 
*' his brother ; " and it was well for Mariquita that he began 
to show symptoms of returning health in that increased irri- 
tability which made many demands upon her attention. Hovv- 
ever, she did not take this disquietude for so favorable a token 



APPREHENSIONS. 93* 

as it was ; she was alarmed lest his fever should return in full 
force ; and thus anxiety for him was blended with the cold 
fear and suspense which lay like a dead weight on her heart. 
There was plenty of room for startling apprehensions in the 
circumstances which surrounded her. The chances were 
many, that even the good, coarse, humorous, but comforting 
and reliable Yankee, might never return. What claim had 
she upon him ? Perhaps when he found Louis — if he ever 
did — the two would pursue their original plans, leaving the 
camp to its fate. Pedro so weak — she so helpless. A dizzy 
circle of thoughts like these kept turning in her brain, as the 
second day of Buell's absence arose and rolled into its merid- 
ian ; she was actually alarmed lest her reason should give 
way with her fortitude. 



CHAPTER XI. 

DICK. 

Louis sat a long time beside his horse, who was too much 
exhausted to rise. The unshadowed sun beat down on them 
until the man felt himself in danger of sun-stroke. His eager 
eye scanning the horizon on all sides, saw nothing to reveal to 
him the direction he ought to take. However, there was one 
thing he could do — follow back on the trail made by himself 
and the Comanches, which he judged to be about on as 
straight a line for the camp as any that could be chosen. In 
this he might run some risk of being waylaid by them, but 
there was a comforting thought in the fact, that no ambush 
could be formed by them, as the whole route was perfectly 
open and exposed. 

" It'll never do to waste time this way, Tempest, if we are 
to get home on our present stock, which consists of one piece 
of salt dried beef. Yet I fear you won't rally, old fellow, 
without something to drink. I'd give a bucket of dollars, if I 
had them, for a bucket of Water. Lie still, my brave boy, 
while I descend the gully and look about ; there may still be 
a little water there." 

When he saw that his master was moving away. Tempest 
made an effort to struggle to his feet, but did not succeed. 
His pitiful eyes seemed to speak a request not to bo ^^ ■*^'^, 



t4 THE TWO HUNTERS. 

" Oh, I'm coming back with a liat full of water presently !" 
said the young man, hopefully. 

Retracing the way back to the arroya^ he was soon wan- 
dering down the sandy bed, where once had been a deep 
stream, looking for signs of moisture, where, by digging in the 
sand, he might still find water. He looked in vain. Not a 
drop trickled from the dusty bluffs on either side, nor was there 
even a little pool or hint of underground springs in the bot- 
tom. It was cooler there than on the plain ; the whole course 
was in shadow from the steejD walls, and the winds rushed 
through with a loud, refreshing murmur. He then searched 
for a less abrupt declivity, so that he might get his horse over 
the ravine as soon as he should be able to move. 

" Perhaps Tempest will discover water where I can not ; 
they say the instinct of animals is wonderful in such matters." 

Hoping this, but beginning to be depressed by serious fore- 
bodings, Louis found a spot at which he thought his horse 
might cross the arroya ; he then went back and found Tem- 
pest already on his feet and coming toward him, with a faint 
whinny of delight. Carefully as a person, but still somewhat 
feebly, the animal made his way down the steep bank. 

" Sniff around, ray friend, and tell us where the water lies," 
said Louis,; but, tlxough he led his companion a long distance 
up and down the bed of the vanished stream, he gave no 
signs of making the important discovery. 

" If that's the case, every hour lost here may be the fatal one." 

Urging his horse up the opposite side, he started by the trail 
of the four animals who had come thus far. The dead steed 
of the Comanche lay stiff beneath the sun ; the owner had 
not paused to take possession of its trappings, neither could 
Louis avail himself of these trophies, for Tempest, as yet, could 
s.not bear his master's weight. Man and horse walked slowly 
forward ; and, as the palpitating vail of heat lifted and the 
sun sunk lower, Louis saw, afar off, faint, like a scarcely visi- 
ble cloud, th€ peak of the Wachita mountains, which he had 
designed to use as a landmark. This gave him liberty to press 
forward without the trouble of keeping the trail ; but he was 
still obliged to walk, as Tempest was trembling and unsteady 
in his gait. They must have come an amazing distance 
during that tremendous gallop. The mountains might be 
thu-ty miles, they might be fifty, or more — he could not judge. 



THE DYING STEED. 95 

As long as there was any light to detect that little cloud 
against the Bky, he hurried on. Then the question was, 
whether to attempt to proceed through the darkness. He 
must ; it was imperatively necessary. He was tortured by an 
increasing thirst ; and he knew that his horse suffered similar 
pangs by his short, gasping breathing. Knowing that neither 
could h6ld out while he walked those many miles, he finally 
mounted, conscious of the cruelty of hurrying the trembling 
animal, yet conscious, likewise, that the safety of both de- 
manded it. It was evident that Tempest, magnanimous by 
nature, made a noble effort to follow out his wishes and to 
appear proud of his burden ; he broke into a gentle trot, and 
with a brief show of his old fire, tossed his mane in the glow- 
ing starlight. 

" Bravo ! bravo ! we shall see home yet 1" murmured the 
young man, as five or six miles of ground were passed over 
in good time. *' The further we go to-night the less we 
shall have to suffer from to-morrow's sun. Aha ! what's this ? 
trembling and staggering again." 

With another desperate rally Tempest recovered himself, 
trotted forward more rapidly than before, then suddenly 
stopped, shivering through all his frame ; his rider had just 
time to dismount, when he sunk on his knees and fell over. 

"It's no use— you've killed yourself for me," murmured 
Louis, the tears starting in his eyes, as he knelt, too, patting 
the dying steed, and talking affectionately to him as if he was 
a child. He began to apprehend that Tempest had injured 
himself internally at the time of that mighty and magnificent 
leap which had saved his master. This was probably the 
case, as thirst and fatigue would hardly have exhausted that 
powerful form so quickly. For the next two hours he con- 
tinued to breathe with great difficulty, every gasp wringing his 
owner's heart ; then there was a long shiver, a sound almost 
like a hunlan groan, and Tempest was dead 1 

The hunter sat some time beside the body of his brute friend, 
feeling an acute grief at his loss. It seemed to him ungrate- 
ful to leave him there, unburied, for the birds to prey upon ; 
but the increasing sense of thirst and hunger which tortured 
him, overcame all such nice sentiment. The love of life and 
the instinct to preserve it is strong in us all. Quite certain 
that he was walking in the right direction, and even that he 



96 THE TWO HUNTERS. 

could still make out the faint outlines of the Wachita peak 
against the starlight, he braced himself to extraordinary exer- 
tions, well aware that the burning sun of the morrow would 
increase his suflerings, while it decreased his ability to travel. 
Morning came. He had walked many miles, and the moun- 
tains were still before him, proving that he had not gone 
astray ; and yet they looked no nearer than on the previous 
day. How far, how unapproachable they grew ! He pressed 
steadily forward, forcing himself to think of every thing but 
of the burning craving which tore his dry throat — of his mo- 
ther, his selfishness in going from her as he had — of his dear 
home in New York, with its circle of comforts and friends — 
of Mariquita — and ever through all the images which he called 
up, his thirst grew and grew ; and the sun, like a brazen face 
to mock him, stood oyer him ; the morning breeze died away ; 
the atmosphere grew wavering in the heat,- and nowhere was 
any shade, any coolness, any promise of water. His eyes 
were hot, his feet blistered, his knees weak and trembling ; but 
the courage of manhood was still strong within him, and he 
pressed forward, towafd that discouraging, dissolving point 
against the brilliant sky. 

It was noon, and past noon, when the physical powers of 
the young hunter finally compelled his strong will to succumb. 
Gasping, tottering, scorched- and blasted, he could no longer 
force one foot before the other. He was about to sink upon 
the parched earth in a sort of vague bewilderment, no longer 
striving against fate, when his foot stumbled, and he rolled in- 
to a little gully, only five or six feet deep, formed, like the 
others, by the drying-up of the little stream which filled it 
earlier in the season. The shock aroused him — he looked 
eagerly about him, digging in the sand with his fingers, hoping 
for a little moisture at least, against which he could lay his 
fevered lips. Nothing ! Nothing ! He drew from his pocket a 
morsel of salt dried beef Chewing upon it revivedjjhiui for a 
'* time, but afterward only added to his pangs. It was a little 
cooler there, in the shadow ©f the bank ; and, anyhow, he. had 
not strength to crawl up on to the plain. He fait that he was 
about to die. For a little time his nijnd remained calm and 
clear. He wondered if Amos Buell would search for him, and 
find his body ; he even thought, with deep interest, of Pedro 
suffering for the fresh meat which he had not brought him, 



PERISHING IN THE DESERT. 97 

wondering if he would sink for the want of it. He thought, 
too, of Mariquita — of her more than of any thing else. She 
came to him, and reproached him with the haste with which 
he had judged her. Sad, solemn, beautiful, she seemed to 
stand before him, with pathetic eyes and gentle lips, and to 
say — " Judge not, that ye be not judged." Instantly, as by a 
flash of the sun into a dark room, he saw how he migM liaxe 
been mistaken in his hasty conclusion ; that the girl whom he 
had loved, knowing so little of her family, might have had 
a brother — and Pedro might really be that brother. All at 
once, the case was reversed ; she was the party wronged, he 
the guilty one. Ah ! if this was so ! if he could live to prove 
it so ! if he could stagger to his feet, if only in time to satisfy 
himself of this, before he died ! Die ! was he really dying ? — 
he, so young, so strong 1 With a great eflbrt he raised his 
head, but it sunk back again ; his clear, excited brain began 
to whirl and swim — he M^as fast lapsing into delirium. 

At this crisis, something cold touched his face ; a short, joy- 
ful bark rung in his dimmed ears ; he unclosed his eyes — Dick, 
his faithful dog, Was licking and caressing him, vainly trying 
to express the pleasure of his dumb, brute heart. Again Louis 
rallied.. If Dick was here, Buell could not be far away. With 
a sickly smile, the jroung man parted the dog, his eyes eagerly 
searching the space about him. 

Poor Dick! he comprehended the emergency. His wild 
delight at finding his master began to subside. To find him 
was not enough. He needed help which no dog could, give 
him. As the consciousness of this crept into his canine brain, 
he suddenly whirled, leaped up the bank and disappeared. In 
vain Louis waited his return, listened for the sound of voices, 
hoped for assistance. His delirium returned. It grew to him 
only one of his many mocking fancies, that Dick had been 
there ! He saw cold, shining water, too — but there was no' 
water. He tasted golden oranges and luscious peaches, but 
there was no fruit in that desert. Dick had not been there — 
it was a fever-dream ! 

The long afternoon &lid away, the sun set, the twilight be 
gan to darken. How long that afternoon had been Louia 
knew not — he was lethargic and sinking now. The world, 
and all therein, was fading away from him, with the sun which 
faded in the west. 



98 THE TWO HUNTERS. 

Again he was disturbed. 

He thought Mariquita held a silver cup of delicious wine to 
his lips. He drank and drank — she laughed, and sung to him. 
Presently his stupor partially rolled away, voices were actually 
near him — some one was calling his name — some one was 
wetting his hps with the draught of life. He unclo^d his eyes 
and stared at the homely face which bent above him. 

" Buell ?" he whispered, doubtfully. 

*[ 'Tain't nobody else. You guessed right that time, young 
inan — yes, by Jemima ! — and not a mmit too soon — no, thank 
the Lord, and not. too late." And with this, rough, lank, cold- 
blooded, curious Buell, who never seemed to have any too 
much heart, burst out into a laugh which ended in a sob. 

" Kow, by all the horses I ever swapped, if this don't beat 
all — to find myself a-cryin' when f set out to laugh ! Wouldn't 
the folks to hum be astonished to see Amos Buell making such 
a fool of himself? But the fact is, my friend, when I found 
you here, I took you for dead — and it's an agreeable surprise 
to find you alive. Ha ! ha 1 take a drop or two more o' this, 
Louis. It'll set you up, like windin' up a clock. We'll have 
you all right, now, in less'n no time." 

In half an hour Louis sat up, leaning against the bank ; his 
stupor and bewilderment were gone, thougji he was very weak. 

" How came you to find me ?" 

^* I never should have found you — leastwise until it was 
quite too late to be of any earthly use to you— if it hadn't been 
for Dick, here. Dick! bless your soul ! (you know I argue 
that dogs have souls !) where are you ?" 

The dog was lying at his master's- feet, quiet and tired, quite 
satisfied at the present state of afiairs, which did not seem to 
demand any action on his part. 

" You see that dog left me in the lurch, last night, when 
you didn't get back. He stole oflT, on his own hook, to hunt 
'you up; and it's my opinion he's been over every inch o' 
ground you've touched since you started. Wal, I sot off this 
moruin', but you see he had the start o' me ; me, and red-skin 
here, had made our way to that arroya^ Where you seemed to 
have dropped in, and where we found a Comanche horse shot 
by one o' your bullets, and was a-wondering what to do next, 
when Dick comes tearing up to us, like mad, and takes me by 
the breeches, and pulls, and seems so determined to have his 



SAVED. ^^ 

way, that I wasn't long a-guessin' he'd come with a message 
from you. That was about three hours ago. So I told him 
to trot, and- we would follow. He did trot, so fist that our 
horses had a good time keepin' him in sight. And he brought 
us here without unnecessary delay. I reckon we'd had a good 
time getting on the right track, if it hadn't been for Dick. 
Judging by your symptoms when we arriv', we'd have found 
you about a <,lay too late to be of any assistance, onless it was 
to bury you." 

Louis' hand rested lovingly on Dick's head. 

" How far from camp are we now ?" 

" About twenty mile. You went about forty-five, if you 
went to that arroya^ 

" Can we get back to-night ?" 

" I reckon not. I guess a \le feedin' and sleepin' won't 
hurt you, the next few hour^;^ About three o'clock, we'll 
mount you on the horse of my ^d friend here, who will have 
no objections to a little walk, and we'll be back in camp in 
time to take a late breakfast with the pretty senorita." 



" The pretty seSorita" did not have much appetite for break- 
fast. She was sitting, listlessly^ outside the tent door. Her 
cheeks were pale, there were dark shadows under her eyes, her 
. every attitude and movement betrayed the lassitude of hope- 
less melancholy. For some moments she had remained mo- 
tionless, her eyes bent on the ground. Suddenly a loud, cheery 
voice rung in her ears : 

" Good morniij', seflorita. Folks to hum ? How's your 
family? We're travelers, hungry and tired, and if you don't 
keep a hotel, we trust you won't refuse your fellow-cretur's a 
little breakfast." 

Yes, it was Buell. Humorous and careless as ever, here he 
was, saluting her with a jest, by way of announcing his return. 

Who was on the other horse ? Not the Wachita ? — no — it 
was Louis ! Instantly her heart sprung up, like a flower when 
some passing foot is lifted from it. She did not pause to ask 
wh}-- he had wronged her — what. their present relations were. 
In the triumphant joy of finding that he was yet alive, every 
other feeling perished. She sprung forward, held out her arms, 
her face flushed. 

"Louis I" 



o THE TWO HUNTERS. 

The next moment he held her on his bosom. They looked 
in each others' eyes, and the past was forgiven on both sides. 
Not then was the explanation made, which came a little later. 
Sacred to the consciousness that each still loved the other re- 
mained the first few minutes. 

" Whew-w-w I" whistled Amos Buell, thrusting his hands in 
his pockets, and making good use of his eyes. " This comes 
of shetting a young man and woman up in a camp together 
for a couple o' weeks !" ■ 

But for once Amos Buell was mistaken. Louis conde- 
scended to explain " the mystery" of his life, information of 
which had been so often desired by his inquisitive friend, dur- 
ing the few days in camp which followed his own convales- 
cence and the marvelously speed--- restoration of SenorD'Estanza. 

To the ardent and generous "^^nl of Pedro, the discovery that 
the man he so loved was the loH^r of his sister, and likely truly 
to be soon " his brother," was;"^"ke a draught from some elixir 
of life. Under the pleasant excTtement he rapidly grew strong, 
so that it was but a brief time oefore they could resume their 
journey, which was, however, transposed. The whole party 
concluded to return to the Staii^s, where the marriage of Louis 
and Mariquita could most proiA'^rly be consummated, the anx- 
iety of friends relieved, and the lovely bride placed under the 
belter of Louis' own home. When he listened to Louis* con- 
fession of his jealousy, and of the construction he had put upon 
the secret meeting of brother and sister in St. Louis, Pedro 
was indignant for a brief time ; but his generosity and affection 
enabled him soon to wholly and heartily forgive it. 

" You have suffered too much, for us to deal severely with 
you," he said, giving his hand to his new brother, with one of 
hi§ sparkling smiles. " If Mariquita forgives you, it is all right." 

" At least, it w.as from excess of love, not lack of it, that I 
erred," said Louis, humbly, and the dark eyes smiling into his 
did not reproach him. 

"We will not give the parti(;ulars of the homeward journey. 
It was accomplished in safety ; and Amos Buell had the priv- 
ilege, as a reward for his many friendly services, of giving 
away the beautiful bride. _ 

LIBRPRY OF CONGRESS 

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